Core Awareness: Enhancing Yoga, Pilates, Exercise, and Dance, Revised Edition is written for those seeking authentic movement. It is for those recognizing the relevance of being in harmony with the Earthâ€™s rhythms. It is for those more interested in how they move, rather than whether they are doing it right. It is for those ready to let go of their identification as a dancer, yoga student, athlete, or performer, to embrace the common human experience of sensation in motion.
The Industrial Revolution brought with it a view of the human body as a working machine. The concept of body mechanics was developed and with it a focus on tuning up the body. Over the past 100 years, the ideas of Mabel Todd, Lulu Sweigard, Ida Rolf, F. Matthias Alexander, Elsa Gindler, Moshe Feldenkrais, Anna Halprin, Bob Cooley, Judith Aston, Thomas Hanna, Emilie Conrad, and many others have evolved into a vision of the human body as motion. The mechanical approach of body as object has given way to an understanding of body as a living process. No longer thought of as solid, static, or isolated, the human being is now recognized as a dynamic interplay of relationships both within and without.
Cutting-edge perceptions in physics such as those first presented in Fritjof Capraâ€™s Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems and in the field of neurobiology as explained in Candace Pertâ€™s book Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine, and most recently in cell biologist Bruce Liptonâ€™s The Biology of Belief and evolution biologist Elizabet Sahtourisâ€™s EarthDance: Living Systems in Evolution, scientifically validate the body as other than flesh and bone. We are vibrating molecules composed of more than 80 percent water. A constantly changing thought form, the human body is intrinsically woven into a field of fluid energyâ€”the web of life.
Interdependent and interconnected with the web of life, we are interactive feedback loops. Adaptable and responsive, we are self correcting systems profoundly capable of self-healing. This new perception demands a change in our attitude and in our teaching methods. The body does not need to be taught to stand, move, or breathe. We simply need to stop interfering with our natural capabilities. Therefore, awareness is key.
To embody this new understanding is the next challenging frontier. Being a self-correcting system demands that we shift our focus and intention away from doing it â€śrightâ€ť to gaining awareness. Rather than fixing, conditioning, tuning up, training, or shaping the body, the new paradigm suggests we need simply to fully embody form and function in multiple dimensions. To be filled with awareness!
Instead of fixating or imposing an idea or form upon the body, the centered, self-correcting body (in continual motion and capable of flexibility, suppleness, and strength) emerges from an inner somatic awareness, born of a well-developed nervous system and a harmonic energy flow.
Yet most exercise regimes such as Pilates classes, yoga practices, and dance instruction still practice and are taught in the old mechanistic format. Using visual or verbal cues instead of kinesthetic cues, many teachers fall short of stimulating the somatic awareness necessary for the nervous system to blossom. Trying to imitate or follow the teacher, we struggle to become what we see or are told to be from outside of ourselves. To shift to the new paradigm requires that we change not only our way of thinking about our body, but also demands that we be our body.
To persist practicing and/or teaching repetitive patterning disregards our individuality and limits our potential for developing. Whether we dance, swim, or practice yoga, moving from the inside out initiates a more fluid, energy-efficient expression. By shifting our attention to core awareness the look and feel of everything we do changes. An arm that emerges from a supple core stimulates a dynamic gesture that an anchored and locked core cannot. A backbend initiated through the core simultaneously lengthens the whole body, while mere external force thrusts the body into overextension and compression. Initiating turnout by rolling and pivoting the femur in the hip socket lubricates and massages the joint where an outward turn of the leg executed at the knee and/or lower back wears and tears the joints and ligaments.
The ability to sense the core and the quality of attention necessary to nourish awareness are central to evolving a centered, self-healing body. The plexus, where ancient wisdom is reflected and kinesthetic awareness emanates, is located at the center of the gravitational forces. Here in the human core is where physical and energetic alignment occurs spontaneously. The internal self-correcting cues known as righting reflexes become our inner teacher. Executing movement from a strong inner awareness fills form from the inside out. It is within our personal core where we may connect with lifeâ€™s instinctive wisdom.
At the very core of every well-executed movement is somatic awareness, which ultimately leads to inner freedom. Cultivating your core awareness will enrich your sense of flexibility, suppleness, strength, and stability so that with fluid motion your vital life force becomes increasingly tangible.
Congratulations to Stephanie Foley, the winner of this contest!