What's Happening in a Yoga Asana Besides Stretching, Anatomically Speaking

As “yoga” and “stretching” are often used synonymously, let’s consider what’s happening in a yoga asana* beyond tissue lengthening, i.e. stretching.

 On the off chance that my stick figure yogi isn’t going to get me into the Smithsonian: this practitioner is in a forward fold, their legs on the right and head/arms to the left.

On the off chance that my stick figure yogi isn’t going to get me into the Smithsonian: this practitioner is in a forward fold, their legs on the right and head/arms to the left.

Note: the following is meant to be for the lay-reader, but that said, it is fairly technical. All that to say: if you don't get every word 100%, this is meant to be a supplement to the picture above, as much as vice versa, so if you get one and not the other, you've mostly got it.

💧 COMPRESSION: as one tissue group lengthens, there’s a corresponding compression, usually on the opposite side of the lengthening. We could call the main recipient of this compression the “fluid body” (taking this from Tias Little): this includes blood, lymph, the gooey morass of interstitial fluids, and the organs and glands.

And while of course it’s not just the fluids that are being compressed, the map of the endocrine system — which uses the blood as its “highways” to transport data between glands — is a good one to consider the benefits of compression.

✨ AWARENESS: two pretty distinct aspects here:

  1. Data going from the limbs to the CNS = afferent nerve signals = “I can feel [whatever you’re feeling]” = proprioception and interoception (which are processed in distinct areas of the brain, but we’ll lump them together here as “sensory information coming into the brain”).
  2. Data going from the CNS out to the limbs = efferent nerve signals = “I am moving/stabilizing [whatever you’re moving/stabilizing]” = motor control.

Side discussion: awareness is a big word. Does it extend beyond the nervous system? I sure think so. But we immediately run into “the hard problem” of consciousness: how does one study the thing that is doing the studying? We avoid that here by talking about what qualities of the nervous system we do know, which involve relaying information via neural impulses.

↔️ STRETCHING: much of what makes the distinction in the quality of a pose is the apex of the stretch. Whether you have a rounded back or not, your whole back body — or the superficial back line, to use the language of the Anatomy Trains — is stretching.

So what makes a good forward fold vs a bad one (and please, all arguments about everyone getting to do their own thing notwithstanding; of course that’s true; but some movements are more well done than others)?

The answer is a question: where are the apex(es) of the movement? In a forward fold, like this as in many asana, it’s the hips folding into flexion, aka hinging at the hips.

GERM LAYERS OF THE EMBRYO are also part of this schematic** 

There are three that make it all the way through (sorry, neural crest). The guts 💧 arise of the endoderm; the nervous system ✨ and skin are of the ectoderm; the fascia, bones and musculature are of the middle, and quite pervasive, layer of the sandwich, the mesoderm.

* yoga asana, or any stretching whilst paying attention for that matter, actually any movement at all; yoga is just easier to study because its movement stops now and then

** want to go even further out on a limb with me? If you know the Ayurvedic doshas ...

💧 endoderm = kapha

✨ ectoderm = vata

🔥 mesoderm = pitta

Hope this was useful for you 

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It's Not the Fist; It's the Clenching

This video is a little body-thought experiment that goes beyond the “well, is posture important or not?” dichotomy.

This was much inspired by my conversation with Susan Harper way back when, which I just re-listened to part of.

Also, I really been loving making these few one minute videos. They are excellent training for a long-road rambling thinker like me. If you're appreciating these (more than just "that's nice," but like "yeah these are helpful!") please let me know and that'll be good fuel to keep making them. Thanks :)



It’s a wonderful, albeit overused, idea.

If it feels a bit too woo-woo for you, try this thought experiment on: Remember when you were learning to walk? (Me neither so let’s imagine;)) Whatever you want to call what you did to go from the ground to standing without having done it before.


It wasn’t about engaging this or that muscle, though muscular engagement certainly did happen.

It wasn’t about knowing a progression, though a progression did happen (and it’s a beautiful one, as lots of us movement folks are figuring out and incorporating into the work we do).

It wasn’t even a “practice” you were “doing” yet. And you didn’t know if other kids were doing it or not.

But something in your DNA, in the root of your being, wanted to walk.


So back to our original word, I am struck by:

1. the power of intent — or whatever you want to call it — and the self-organization that happens around it when it’s real,

but now, also,

2. this question: who, exactly, is the one with the intent to do something?

(Is it really something you need to do or is it already there? And if it’s not there, we could say there there is an intent there do not do, or to be still or whatever else.)


ps get Anatomy of the Breath for $15 — which is half off — by using this link, which will remain valid through the end of March: https://www.udemy.com/draft/1580660/?couponCode=KNOWTHYSELF

Integration vs Going to the One Source Before Fragmentation Occurred

"Somato-spiritual breath-body integration + shamanic unity awareness practice with Chakra Cleanz (tm)."

There's quite a bit of fusion of previously-disparate strands these days, no?

Acro yoga on stand up paddle boards. CrossFit with Drake, ending in meditation. Somatic meditation movement workshops like the one Brooke Thomas and I put together for this summer.

The upside of integrating several practices is being able to then offer something that is more inherently complete. It's more like an orange — with its near infinite array of co-factors — than just the isolate of Vitamin C.

The downside is we can lose sight of the nature of this integration — namely that what we are "integrating" was, perhaps, never separate to begin with; that we created the separation to help make sense of things.

And if we're not careful we can lose sight of the already-unbroken nature.

You don't actually need to put the vase back together that you've only smashed with your mind.


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Water, Muscles and Light as Energy with Gerald Pollack — ep 33 — is live 🧡

Gerald Pollack has spent more hours studying water and the nature of muscle contraction than you've spent doing just about anything. Beyond his work with water, which is hugely worth checking out — you could start with this Ted Talk or his book The Fourth Phase of Water — Jerry is a very bright, kind and well-seasoned scientist with a lot to say about the current state of scientific affairs.

In our talk, we cover:

1. Water (particularly its "fourth phase")

2. The nature of science, and experiments

3. The nature of muscle contraction, and Jerry's work with water explaining contraction beyond the most-usually-cited actin/myosin model

4. The ways in which we use light as energy, through water and infrared

He's a gem. As per usual, enjoy via the player below, this download or iTunes, Spotify, or whatever app you use to listen. Thanks for supporting the show :)

Quick Little Shoulder Mobility Movement

Here’s the kind of stuff we’re doing as warmup for a strength and mobility class I teach. Perhaps you'd like to give it a little go? It's fun to get into the little nooks and crannies, I think, and probably in a new way unless you're already doing this kind of thing. Computer break time.

Imagine you’re scraping the inside of a large bowl with your shoulder blades. Go slow. Squeeze your fists and keep your arms straight. Get as much range of motion as you can whilst maintaining the all that:)

The idea is that you ...

🦅 find yr scapulae (💪 🧠)

🦉 dissociate ^ from elbow bending

🦆 get into some of the inner stickies in your deep shoulder

🦇 oh yeah and breathe and enjoy :)

Getting Physically Stronger by Moving With Uncomfortable Emotions and Thoughts

I just finished my morning movement / workout session with my friend Nicole. (We train together twice a week.)

This morning, as many mornings over this past year, I feel very grateful — and a bit amazed — at how much stronger, more mobile, and what a wider range of frequencies I have access to in my body versus a couple years ago, even a few months ago.

The amazement is how I've always wanted these kinds of results from my training, but only the past couple years am getting them, and in such a deep way, with not necessarily spending that much more time training.

It's the emotional labor.

But before we get to that, I'd like to be clear that I do move a fair amount these days, but almost without exception:

  1. I don't do anything that's not fun for me. (Like yesterday, I was planning on going to yoga, but brunch sounded more fun so I did that instead.)
  2. I work out with less weight than I used to, and I'm way stronger than I used to be.

So, what's different?

Hard to put my finger on exactly ... I keep learning a ton so I do employ a lot of it is "try this instead" kind of modifying ... though I am hardly at all in the camp of "here is the proper way to do such and such a movement." That is limiting and only partially true, no matter what's being said, and for me its application is well umbrella'd under the following ...

My dedicated workout time is usually mentally and emotionally exhausting.

Like, in a fun and good way, but still.

Like when I'm practicing my hanging drills, I'm way, way back on what I could be doing, and am instead seeking and finding these little pockets that cause my whole autonomic nervous system to rev up. I'll feel like a caged animal, and just want to get the hell out of there ...

It's a positional thing turned emotional. It's form turned function. It's anatomy turned physiology. It's mechanotransduction!

All this is happening under what looks from the outside like pretty benign movements. It's secret work.

It takes all I have to stay focused, even partially, and to just stay with it, no matter how I feel (emotionally; this is not about pushing into pain one bit).

And, again, it's crazy how much stronger, and more mobile and resilient I am because of this work.

Sorry if I'm a broken record, but just to reiterate: it's not a "what;" it's a "how." (And, somewhat semantically perplexing to say but true, a lot of that "how" is to change up, and keep investigating and holding very sacred, the "what.")


So ...

I'm only 37, so perhaps I'll write something more profound when I'm 70, but still ... I'm at an age where lots of people say "yeah, that just starts to happen" with body breakdowns and whatnot.

So it's great to feel my body opening up, like way up, in no uncertain terms.

This is not about avoiding pain. (Good luck with that, anyone.)

It IS about not only "confronting" some demons via somatic experiencing — which I would contend is just as readily available at a 225-lb barbell as it is in a Peter Levine-trained therapist's office — but, perhaps ...

Dancing with those demons as well. Moving with them.


It's corny when put into words. It HAS to be. That's the nature of something becoming cute and tidy in language.

It's something different as a lived experience. (As many of you know; and most of us continue to find out, ever deepening.)

Love from the abyss, right back into its own heart.


Nobody Going Nowhere

“I need to be someone special, going somewhere. But I’m not.”

Classic makings for anxiety/fomo, no?

Post that on facebook and, if you’re lucky, a hundred friends will reply in support “yes you are special; you’ve got this!”

Those friends are great to have.

Because it’s stupid to hear from someone else that you’re nobody going nowhere, even though that seems, to me, to be a much clearer reflection of what’s true.


Lately I’ve been re-living a painful experience I had many times I had as a kid.

I would be standing there, talking to someone when … this meta-awareness would come over me. It was not liberating-feeling, though; it was like a fog, or a virus, something that infected my brain and then all of a sudden I was so painfully aware of everything happening, I couldn’t think clearly anymore.

I remember that feeling, the impending sensation of the awareness shifting, as a kid — from probably 8 until, though less and less as I got older, well into my late 20s — and thinking “oh jeez, here it comes again.”


That whatever-you-call-it has been resurfacing again. I’ve been getting to know it.

The fog and stress I felt as a child, and what I have experienced many times lately, feel like a byproduct — not a necessary one but one that happened all the same — to the tune of the belief I opened this post with: “I need to be someone special, going somewhere. But I’m not. Instead I’m just [whatever I’m doing].”

But this time, for whatever host of reasons, something else has been emerging as part of the conversation.

It says something like, “What if this is it?”

And, in that moment of reckoning, the anxiety falls away, completely, and a deep peace is all that's left.


"What if this is it?" did not come as a new-age-Socratic demand or instruction. It's a real question. (That's a crucial but often overlooked aspect, I think. It's not question-as-strategy-to-avoid.)

What if … THIS … this right now, like right now right now … is it? Like finished. End of story. This is it, pack up your bags, goodnight that’s really all the reality / god / awareness / whatever you’re ever going to experience.




It’s not what I thought it would be.


(Y tu? I am all ears.)


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Advice on Finding a Movement Teacher

I would not trust a teacher

Who is not willing to run 'til exhausted

Through the streets

As if chasing and being chased both,


To make a fool of himself in such a fashion

That his audience may actually find him a fool,

Or a traitor or a blasphemer,

And not, clearly, a deep-thinking poet

Cloaked in the fashionable garment

      of risk.


No, I would not trust anyone for advice

Who has not been lost, and afraid,

In the woods behind her own home.


Who knows a storm — and its passing —

Like either a mad man or

Someone who's bound herself

in some very unlucky predicaments?




A fool will act without consideration.

An intellectual will make guesses with firm foundations.

A spiritual person will disguise her real desires

      and intentions.


A true sage will stand with you in the fire

And not try to talk you out of it

      one inch,

Nor speculate on the nature of ash

      or even the water

      or what will quench what.


What Stems From What?

What stems from what? A scenario, food for thought ...

“My back hurts because my hips are out of whack.”

What does out of whack mean to you?

“You know … this hip is higher than the other … you can see that, right?”

For sure. I’m just not convinced that’s at the root of this pain. It might be! But I’m curious, on a scale of 1 - 10, how sure are you that that’s the case?

“I don’t know … Seven? Eight? Pretty sure.”

So I’m going to say a statement, and let's have you see for yourself, just get a feel, for if this might be true. Okay?


The statement you’re trying on for size is: My back hurts not because of what is happening in my hips, but because of my resistance to what is happening — the way things are wanting to go — in my hips.

“Hmmmm … Maybe. Maybe.”

Seeing as the premise you’ve been working with doesn’t seem to be working well ... right? that’s what you told me, that it’s been a lot of years trying to get into alignment with relief when you are but increasing amounts of time that you aren’t, and are trying to get there ... Seeing that that’s the case, can we suspend that belief, and look into some other options in this session?

“Sure, let’s do it.”

Great. If this starts to suck or feel like a waste of time, let me know and we’ll change gears, okay? This is not about believing in anything. It’s about what’s real, in a way that’s obvious once you feel it.

[ and so begins a session … ]

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Seeing Inside a Body with Alexander Tsiaras — ep 32 — is live

Fresh off the press.

Alexander Tsiaras is a modern-day Renaissance man who's been called the "Leonardo Da Vinci of the digital age." He's a scientist / artist who's part of creating a new look at human anatomy, and it's pretty revolutionary.

Images like this:


He's authored two books I adore and give away often: The Architecture of Man and Woman — that's the one the image above is from — and From Conception to Birth: A Life Unfolds which is a gorgeous, intimate look into the 9-month journey.

Those books are how I found him, anyway. What unfolded was a conversation about the art and science of imaging the insides of a human being, even an embryo, and then so much about storytelling.

"Those running the healthcare industry of some of the shittiest storytellers out there." — AT

We have so many stats, and numbers and "should" in mainstream healthcare. We need, says Alexander and I am obliged to mostly agree after this talk, better storytelling, so that people are motivated to change.

For example, he's received stories from smokers who said they quit after seeing this image.

A thousand words, and more.

Enjoy! 💛 LB + TBA

As always, listen to this show on iTunes or any other podcast app, in the player below or download this episode here.

"Healing Wants to Happen" with Kate White — ep 31 — is live

If you've not tuned into this episode yet,* we've been getting lots of good feedback, especially from bodyworkers interested in incorporating more emotional-awareness-type tracking into their sessions.

(For anyone not in that world, this basically just means getting better at reading, and responding to, context and subtext. How someone says "my shoulder hurts" might tell you a lot about how to help them solve the dilemma that's causing their shoulder pain as what you find, i.e. the structural stuff.)

Kate White is a pre- and peri-natal therapist, and an expert in the autonomic nervous system, with lots of experience — both intellectual and that kind of knowing that sits in your guts and is felt — in the world of being born, at first and again.

Listen below, on your fave podcast app like iTunes, or download direct here.

*jeez, sorry this is a late post — this episode has been up for about 10 days. There's no other reason for that than that I forgot to post here when the episode went live; I'll do my best to remember, and do that, from now on.

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Traveling Lightly

💛 So, sometimes, I publish poetry on here, too — could be anyone's (this one's mine) — for this reason: the feeling elicited by a poem might capture something prose cannot. Or, as one of my favorite poets, David Whyte, said, it is "language against which we have no defenses."


For Love I would lay down
What I usually carry
So that I may travel faster
And more freely.

And so I do. 
The heavy shield, once mine, appears
Smaller behind me with every step. 
“What a remnant,” I think.

I don’t know why I waited so long. 
I was a fool! I’m one now, too.
I was afraid! I was afraid of my own death,
Of becoming something else.

Experiments turn to gestures, to new posture. 
So it is with traveling lightly:
You become something new merely by
Giving it a go — small steps — again and again.

— LB

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The Middle Way

Imagine you’re looking at a spectrum, a line representing two extremes.

On one end, you have complete austerity, whatever that means to you. On the other, you have complete indulgence.

Or, perhaps, on one end you have deeply blissful highs, and on the other you have crushing, depressing lows.

It’s tempting, is it not, to think of The Middle Way as a kind of compromise between the two.

“Yeah, have a little chocolate cake, just not too much.”

From the perspective of living in the extremes, the middle way can look like a kind of luke-warm, dad-joke, have-it-both-ways compromise you sigh your way into after you get your first real job.


But, I am purporting here and have directly experienced: that’s not all it is

And in fact that’s only the most surface layer, the what it looks like, in the same way that a plastic rose can kind of look like a rose, but really they are nothing alike.

Back to our initial image of the spectrum, it’s as if from one perspective yes, this middle way is, indeed, in the middle of two points.

But then the perspective shifts, and this third point is actually on another plane altogether.

From this new perspective, it’s not a “middle point” at all. It is something else entirely.


There’s a depth there that you cannot fathom. (I can’t either.)

There’s a holding of opposites — where either/or breaks down, not for lack of intellect but for sudden uselessness of the map of logic itself — that you cannot fathom.


So, how to find it, to get to know this depth?

1. Lots of good resources out there these days; thank goodness.

2. For lack of any more detail, try this one on: Follow your heart is step one. Step two is vital: now act. That thing stirring in your guts that you know calls you, perhaps terrifyingly so: that. It’s secret work, and it’s extremely, and only, personal to you.

Source: http://www.thebodyawake.com/

New Year Experiments

For the new year, at least the next few months, I'll be employing one personal experiment per month. Perhaps you'll join me.

Here are the rules of the game:

1. Only one experiment per month.

You want to do other stuff, fine, but choose one thing that's your real target.

2. Lock onto the target and do not stray.

This is not "we'll see how I feel and re-evaluate every morning." It's set the target for one month. If and when it's difficult, toughen up. To toughen up, you need nothing other than to just, well, toughen up.

I offer this primarily as an antidote to the camp I often spend time in, which is more feel good and listen to your body type rhetoric. Of course don't do violence to yourself, but as anyone who's broken through an addiction will tell you, there will be moments when your body is screaming at you for one more hit of whatever — a drink, a cookie, a random hookup — and the power of staying with your resolve, and emerging out the other side of the addictive craving ... well, what that is is really what these experiments are about, ultimately. Then you have a different body that will make new choices. If the thing was really good for you, i.e. this version of listening to your body, when the month is up: have at it, forever and ever.

3. This is an experiment, of course, so do your best to empty any preconceptions about if this is "good for you" or not. This is, in my mind, the biggest difference between an experiment and a resolution. Both can be great, but this one is really about try this and really observe, see what it's like to do it for a month.

4. Share with people if it's helpful. If it's not, don't.

I've been appreciating lately the dance of when it's time for public transparency, and when it's time to hold something dear to your chest, like a journal entry that you know no one else will read.

5. You may ask yourself: whose voice is this that's asking for this change?

Ask this both when setting the experiment, and throughout the month. You may already get what I'm getting at, and may be surprised. I sure have been.

6. When the month is done, the experiment is done.

Then drop it, entirely. You may, of course, find yourself engaging again. You may find some habits have completely dropped. I've experienced both. (Coffee, for example, I take breaks from every few months, when it's feeling like too much. But it's something I love a lot and usually come back to. I'm getting more and more okay with that.)

Have a great time. Let me know how it goes? LB

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Assessment, Treatment and Reverse Engineering

Consider for a moment the difference between what are good tools for assessment, and what are good tools for treatment. And when those two are synonymous, and when they’re not.

(Often, this assessment/treatment schema is a bit of a false dichotomy but, if you would, let’s just play along.)

An example: if you can’t touch your toes, will attempting to touch your toes on a regular basis help you, eventually, touch your toes?

There’s an obviousness, a tried-and-true wisdom feeling to it, that says “of course.” In this case, we call it stretching, or yoga or whatever you happen to be doing. Does it work? There are a trillion variables in answering that but we could say: yeah, to varying degrees, it does*

If you lack strength in your arms, conventional wisdom says you do things that someone with strong arms would do: i.e. you lift weights, or do pushups or whatever.

The basic formula: work backwards from where you want to be, keep leaning that direction and it’ll happen.

But how about: if you’re not a nice person, will attempting to be a nice person on a regular basis help you, eventually, be a nice person? (And in this example, we might add: if so, at what cost to your vitality?)

Will trying to balance on your toes help you balance on your toes? Will trying to teach well help you teach well? If so for either of these, is that the best method, or are there better ways to do this?

Will trying to be a great architect help you be a great architect?

For that last one, most overtly: probably not. Or rather, it is not the most essential ingredient by far. There are innumerable foundational skills that you’ll need first.

These are all examples of reverse engineering.

And it works beautifully sometimes. Sometimes, it misses the mark entirely.

You make a building that looks like a well-built building but isn’t, and it’ll fail sooner.

You’ll miss the unseen.

You “try to act nice” for too long and, god willing, you’ll snap before it gets too far down that road of faked niceties.

You try to help someone who’s nervous by saying “relax,” or someone with low confidence by saying “believe in yourself.”

And sometimes it works well. And sometimes, this reverse engineering decidedly does not work. The raw ingredients aren’t there.


So, consider the very tense person. We could tell them to “relax.” We could also 1. assume that this person’s systemic response to reality is right on point, and 2. decide where to go from there, perhaps about changing that “reality” which has nothing to do with “relaxing” or not.

Same with someone who wants strength. Or the architect. Or the rich person. 
Before we start trying to just be something else — yes, it can work, but if it doesn’t — what is the fundamental ground we’re standing on? What’s that like, and how is my current body - mind - whatever else right now actually in perfect response to reality, right now?

Not in theory, but actual you — the person reading this — and me — right now?


I have failed at this innumerable times as a teacher. I have said stuff like “just try to feel this” when the building blocks for feeling were not in a person’s system (as best as I could tell). It was too much too soon. I have failed at this innumerable times as a person. I tried to “be nice” or “be happy” when the building blocks for these byproducts of liberation weren’t there. (Please know I’m using “failed” here lightly. I’m not upset about it, so don’t you be either, please. Otherwise I say stuff like this and some of y’all’s very kind hearts start consoling via comments;))


Food for our collective convo and good morning.


*yes, I’m aware of the current literature which says static stretching doesn’t actually change myofascial length; the focus in those studies has been wonky, I think, ignoring a fundamental fact: YOU DON’T HAVE HAMSTRINGS.

You don’t have a femur. You don’t have a biceps brachii or kidneys or a falx cerebri.

I mean, of course you do, but really, like really outside of cutting up a dead body, there is absolutely nothing in your body, brain, mind, whatever, outside of a concept, that is comprised solely of bundles of muscle fibers in the posterior leg, attaching up high and splitting down low, called "hamstrings." It’s just not there unless we cut it out.

You are an ecosystem immeasurably linked to itself and everything outside of itself. That’s just the facts.

And so, a stretch where someone’s lying on their backs getting stretched, i.e. passive stretching — which is the format for many of these studies — is vastly different in my eyes than someone doing their own “active” (still passive, though) stretch.

Call it intent or or awareness or neurobiology, they’re different acts.

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Choosing Wisely What Academic Articles to Read

I heard some words from a colleague* that changed the way I research for my work, and prepare to teach. I want to pass those words on here.

"It takes a lot for me to open up to read something [academic]. So I'm careful about what I choose to do this with."

Over the last few years, as I've seen how this body-mind stuff has two main branches of expression — one research-driven and academic, the other "intuitive" — and therefore how cool it was to be able to speak both languages, to be able to talk intellectual shop with the best of them ...

... I would have ten tabs on my browser open, titles like "Review of myofascial pain studies" and "Cellular basis of mechanotransduction" and "Hamstring muscle length and pelvic tilt range among individuals with and without low back pain."

And I wouldn't close the tab until I'd "read" it.

But I'm putting "read" in quotes here because I was reading it, really, just to get it done, to be able to close that f'ing tab and move on with my life.

I was scanning for information to support what I believed, and maybe learn a factoid or two I could impress my students with.

And in that scanning, also, I would read a difficult section, or a whole difficult paper, and be like yeah, I kinda got that, got the gist of it, without having wrestled with the parts I didn't fully understand.

Of course, I'm kind of hamming up that side of it for the sake of highlighting it in this writing, but it was true all the same.

And for me, that was the main pointer, especially in retrospect: that side of my teaching that wanted students to say "wow; this guy knows a lot!"

And of course, that's an empty game, win or lose.

So, back to reading research more thoroughly, more sparingly, more selectively ...

I'm now experimenting with having what I read be :

a) something I'm interested in, and not just to support an argument (I suppose, honestly, it'd be totally fine to do the latter; just to call a spade a spade there)

b) reading it, and pausing in those places where I can tell I'm skimming, wrestling with it mentally, taking time with pictures and graphs ... "can I really grock what they're saying here?" ... visualizing, reframing in my own words before moving on

It's been an epic change. I love it.

I also love how the intellectual wrestling feels so akin to what I've grown to love about movement training: that is, navigating through autonomic stress, little micro-shifts that make the world of difference inside though might not look like much outside.

Much like teaching to impress or teaching to teach, the shift is very subtle, if not imperceptible, on the inside ...

... but it has a feeling tone any of us can recognize in an instant.

* That colleague is former guest, and soon to be guest again, Mr Michael Hamm. While we were prepping for a course and deciding what materials to include in our handout, I suggested something that he thought was too basic, and added "it takes a lot for me to read papers, so I choose them wisely."

I had always considered him someone of infinite intellectual resource and stamina so that took me by surprise and then, over the course of the months that've followed, has really affected me. I'm really grateful for that moment.

The Heart of Movement, Teaching and Learning's Never Ending Path with Jill Miller — ep 30

Episode 30, with Jill Miller, is live! Our convo revolves around a few central themes that I thought traversed the landscape of "physical" and "emotional" and "mental" in a way that can be really good medicine.

One of these themes: the inevitability of one's dharmic path. As many of you may know, Jill recently had a hip replacement surgery. Was that avoidable? It's a theoretical question of course, but her layers of answering were so powerful, raw, direct and brought us somewhere I wasn't expecting.

38 min 50 sec for the heart of her answer on this topic, though I'd recommend building up to it.

Jill shares some great insight on addiction to movement, meditation, food ... things that aren't inherently "bad" which can make unraveling an addiction all the more complicated.

Another theme is around her surgery. She's been super open about that process — her take on why she got there and what recovery is like — and I respect her a ton for that lack of hiding that is really common, I think, in the world of healer/teacher: to hide one's personal pains from having made mistakes.

Lots on the multi-layered art of teaching, practicing, listening to the heart of one's own experience.

A thousand little nuggets of gold scatter across this landscape. Hope you enjoy the walk.

Love, LB + TBA

¿ So is alignment important or not ?

Aka Ruminations on Alignment, pt 3

Is alignment — the shape of one's body in any particular situation — important?

I'd love offer up: it's really not.

Alignment is not important; tone is.

The funny part is, in many ways they are synonymous — and thus it’s an easy distinction to miss.

It’s like mass and weight. On earth, those two are synonymous. Go to another planet, though, and while your mass remains the same your weight changes.

I’d say, in this analogy, tone — i.e. the dance between what is engaged and what is not — is mass, and alignment is weight. And the planets are positions, movements, traditions.

Alignment, in other words, is entirely circumstantial. It’s important as an indicator, absolutely, but it’s not cause; it’s effect.

If you get to know the tonus of a position, through and through, then it’s yours; you‘ve got it.

If you only come to know the position, ie the alignment, then you know that alignment but it doesn’t translate per se. It’s learning to stand with this particular weight, specific to this planet.

All this, of course, is simplified ...

... but I would contend that getting into good alignment is actually not at all about getting into good alignment, but about all you need to find in your own body in order to get into that good alignment ...

Do you need to make this distinction as a teacher each time? Of course not. You might say the exact same words, do this movement this certain way, i.e. in this certain alignment.

The difference is : you will know you are teaching something that’s about what is happening on the inside — which can indeed refer to all sorts of things but here I am talking about what’s happening on the inside just straight up biomechanically, i.e. what is engaged and what is not, i.e. the tone — which just happens to look like this particular alignment but that’s not the important part ...

... even though, for all intents and purposes on this planet, it is.


Before we go, just to offer that another way of saying this is: alignment is very important ... as an indicator.