Upgrade Your Body’s Software

Communication in teaching movement (or anything really) has two main phases:

Phase one: instruction from the teacher to your ears. Phase two: from your ears and brain to your body.

How does this message get from your brain to your body? If you understand what has been said and what was asked, do you expect to be able to immediately do it on the first try?

Even if your teacher manages to give you excellent instruction that you understand perfectly in your brain, can you instruct your body to do it?

Can you feel the parts of your body you're being asked to move? Do you know how to instruct them?

There needs to be a process of upgrading your ‘software’ before you can follow the instructions. Much of learning is about upgrading this software to translate instructions from the teacher, through your brain and into your body.

Pay attention to this next time you're learning anything. Try to learn what your teacher teaches, while also taking the time to upgrade your software to make it a little easier to learn next time.

You Are How You Move

I teach movement at Praksis. I spend lots of time training and exercising.

Because of this, you might think I espouse the idea that everyone should be training a few hours a day.

I enjoy what I do and my training has improved my experience in the world. But I notice this most outside of the realm of training activities.

Movement is about so much more than working out. It's about how you live.

It's about limiting the immobilising factors of the world.

Some immobilising factors to consider:

  • Constantly sitting.
  • Practicing looking down with your neck forwards (at your phone or laptop).
  • Wearing restricting shoes.
  • Wearing restrictive clothing.
  • Never putting your hands above your head, say, to hang from something.
  • Focussing on ‘posture’ meaning your spine is immobile.

Removing some of these immobilising factors is, in many ways, more important than any time spent at a gym working out. Sometimes working out might exacerbate injuries caused originally by being immobile.

Look for ways to bring nutritious movement into your day. I recommend the video below and everything from Katy Bowman's channel. But before you watch, stand up!

Move your body!

Plan to Win

There's no secret to getting rid of the internal battle you have about doing exercise.

All you can do is make a schedule of WHEN you'll exercise, know WHAT you'll do beforehand, remove all obstacles beforehand (i.e. set out your clothes the night before), and make it as easy as possible for you to do it when you're at your lowest.

Make it easy on yourself. Don't make a plan for you at your best.

You know the tired, cranky version of yourself who quits? Make it so easy, even that version of you just does it.

Eventually, you might get to that point where the exercise makes you feel good. Even when you don't feel like it, you know that you'll feel better once you've started.

But! Even when you get to that point... starting is still really hard sometimes.

There's no shortcut to removing that internal battle. It's always there.

Don't avoid it or expect it not to happen.

Embrace it. Plan for it.

Aim to win it.

Change the World

Today I performed my first press handstand. There's a lot of room for improvement still but I'm proud of it.

Not long ago something like this was well and truly out of my reach. I wouldn't believe it myself if it weren't on video.

For the past 18 months I've been working with slow, generous, and persistent drips of effort to be able to perform this nine second feat.

Slow because rushing anything isn't really worth it.

Generous because it takes generosity to others and yourself to give the effort and time required.

Persistent as in long lasting, not as in annoyingly over the top. Consistent might be a better word, but persistence captures the act of coming back again and again through failure.

Drips because it takes a whole lot of effort applied in tiny drips.

I don't want to seem too grandiose about my new skill (that can be performed much better by many people!), but I'm struck by how this applies to the world at large.

The world is changed in the same way: slow, generous, persistent drips.

When Less Effort is Better

Trying to apply a lot of effort and straining to do things can push you to learn poor movements.

Your body will find the most efficient way of doing something with what it has right now, not necessarily accounting for what could be built if you worked in a particular way. Straining to lift heavier at the cost of form means your numbers go up, but are you after numbers? Or changes in your body?

Take it easy.

Rest up.

Especially when you’re learning new movements, apply a little less effort and keep your focus at about 60-70% of total available.