Somatic Vitality Brief #1

by / Saturday, 10 October 2015 / Published in Feldenkrais Practitioners, Movement Health, Somatic Futures

Somatic Vitality Brief

Musings on somatic practices and building bridges between related and unrelated fields of inquiry.

Welcome to the Somatic Vitality Brief. In these briefings, I will share what’s inspiring and moving me, some of my pondering or quandaries, and items of interest in all things related to somatic practice. It is my hope that this will move you to discuss, question and experiment.

If you have suggestions, thoughts, or questions, please comment or contact me by clicking here.

A quote that has interested me:

Belying its apparent simplicity, S&S happens to have some fascinating science under the hood. Back in the 1980s Soviet scientists and coaches, Prof. Yuri Verkhoshansky among them, pioneered “anti-glycolytic training” for various endurance events. Where the prevailing approach of dealing with the “burn” of accumulating lactic acid was—and still is—exposing the athlete to ever more intense acid baths, the Soviets had a radical thought: what if we arrange the training in such a manner that the muscles do not produce and accumulate so much acid?!

Strong First blog

This is from the “Strong First” blog. The author, Pavel Tsatsouline is discussing the benefits of his exercise program called “Simple and Sinister” (also the title of his book). The program calls for using just two exercises with kettle bells, the swing and the Turkish get up. Mr. Tsatsouline also directs his readers to keep from exhausting themselves so that they feel refreshed and recharged after the workout. The blog post from which I pulled the quote is about the science behind this kind of training. The idea that you can build up strength and endurance by slowly adapting your body to increased demands flies in the face of many current exercising ideals that promote working to exhaustion.

You might be wondering what a mild mannered Feldenkrais Practitioner like me is doing hanging around the likes of a Strong First blog? I like to look around for other ways of thinking and see if I can broaden my horizons. From my perspective as a Feldenkrais Practitioner, I find that it has some relevance the teachings of Dr. Feldenkrais in that by improving organization and efficiency, we become stronger and more able, as opposed to thinking that we need to tear ourselves down over and over to get stronger. This involves a great deal of willpower, which is limited, just like the glycolytic* system. Going easier can be a much more reasonable strategy in terms of longevity and practicality. It may however, be hard to accept because we’ve been duped into believing that the only way to improve is to struggle with, force and tire ourselves, using willpower instead of sensibility.

*The term, “glycolytic training” refers to training at an intensity that requires glycol for fuel and causes the burning sensation from the build up of lactic acid associated with high intensity training. You can read more about the body’s energy systems here:

Quandary of the week:

How much preparation or training, versus doing or playing?

As a musician and someone who likes to move vigorously, I know the importance of practice and training. Unfortunately, I think I spend too much time preparing and too little time doing. From the musician’s perspective, I know that practicing scales and technical studies will facilitate proficiency and ultimately musical freedom. However, spending too much time doing that can leave little time for musical expression. The same can be said for physical training. We know it’s important to develop strength, power, balance, mobility and coordination but how much before you are prepared to “do”? To take an example from parkour, a practitioner could spend most of his time doing pull-ups and other such exercises to get ready to climb and jump. However, those exercises are not parkour. On the other hand, for someone who only goes out and does parkour, they might find some improvement by working on isolated techniques or exercises. How does one find a balance?

One way I know that I’m getting too far to the training side, musical or otherwise is that I start to get stale and lose joy. Then it’s time to move onto expression, doing and playing. How do I know that I’ve gone too far in the other direction, playing and “doing” too much? I don’t know yet and would like to find out.

Inspiration: Podcast from Christian Howes.

Very different from the chiselled bodies and scowling faces of the Strong First blog, I listened to a wonderful interview of a story teller named Joe McHugh on a podcast by violinist, Christian Howes. Mr. McHugh is a story teller and fiddle player. In the interview, Mr. Howes asks him about story telling and music as well how story telling can be used to promote our wares. McHugh’s advice was very different than much of the current trend to create more and more content and to become known as an “expert.” He recommended authenticity and genuine stories. He also talked about courting the muse rather than forcing things to happen, which brings us around to the beginning of this brief. Storytelling is important for somatic practitioners, teachers and coaches because we need to communicate our ideas in compelling and interesting ways, otherwise they won’t be heard, no matter how good they are.

Let me know what you’re musing about in the comments form below.

Until the next time, play more!


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