Today in CardioBarre, I tried for the umpteenth time to get my toe pointed, foot at the right angle, leg moving in the right direction, with my back flat and holding onto the bar equally with both hands without gripping and/or rotating my body too far in one direction.
It didn’t work.
“You have to be connected to your body,” the teacher, Lisa, reminded us. “Where is the energy coming from? What is your face doing, what are your hands doing? Are you using your breath to give energy to the places you’re working? You have to connect to your body!”
I’m definitely not connected to my body, I thought miserably.
(Fun fact: one of the very first things I wrote on this site, six and a half years ago, was about CardioBarre.)
Luckily, Lisa is usually pretty easy on me. I have absolutely no dance background and know less about pointing my toe during a leg lift than I do about quantum physics. She corrects me as much as she can, but she would spend the whole class doing it if she wanted me in perfect form and eventually, she gives up on me.
Connected to my body?
When did I start escaping my body? Was it when I started to put on weight at fifteen after a lifetime of being “skinny as a stick?” I remember seeing dimples in my thighs for the first time and being horrified. What are those? Where did that come from? Why am I getting fat? What am I doing wrong? I really didn’t know; I was eating how I’d always eaten (cheese puffs, Mountain Dew, cereal, Gushers).
Was it before that? Was it when I couldn’t ever hit the ball in softball, couldn’t ever shoot a hoop in basketball, couldn’t ever make a goal in soccer? My body didn’t work like the kids’ bodies who loved sports, and I was always dropping everything.
Or was it even earlier? When PE teachers took our pent up energy and made us run laps instead of letting us play?
I have no idea. I can’t remember ever being connected to my body, except for a handful of moments. During meditation. During a strict workout regime. Feeling C’s hands playing with my hair.
Even during a massage, I’ve caught myself thinking. I wish she’d use more pressure. How many minutes are left? Okay, stop thinking, just enjoy it. Man, it’s over already?
For some people, their bodies run the show. They have to exercise first thing, or their brains don’t work right. They follow every impulse. They can tell immediately when they’re dehydrated. Sometimes, on days off where I’m the sole caregiver for V, I can’t even remember if I’ve eaten or not. Hungry? Maybe? I guess. Did I eat?
Is being connected to my body something I can learn? I’d like to think that it is. I remember, after months of using the lat pull down machine at the gym, finally feeling the feeling of where my lats were and what they were supposed to be doing! I’d never felt muscle isolation before, and I’d definitely never timed breath to my movements. It changed my entire experience of working out. It was a very early moment of feeling connected to my body.
I’m already starting to think about 2019. I know there are things that I want to add to my life. Meditation. Physical strength. A dedicated writing practice. Perhaps connection to my body is a way that I can learn to feel. So that, in a class, when I see an instructor demonstrate, I know how to translate that into my own movement. Or, when I’m really tense with a coworker, I understand what’s going on. Tired. Raw. Hungry. Vulnerable.
My word for this year was Purpose; what will 2019’s word be?