Modern fitness is bizarre, when you think about it. The cultural consensus is that your body is an external object, a tool, and you exercise to improve it, like you would wax your car, or run a software update.
The body, however, is most certainly not an external object. It’s you. To reduce it to the status of a tool, even a particularly incredible tool, is to become disembodied.
There’s a danger in that. The somatic nervous system is designed to anticipate your needs, minimizing the delay between indicators like fatigue, injury and stress, and the actions that alleviate them. However, acting on your body rather than in your body makes it much harder to use this information. You begin to perceive fatigue, injury and stress as a failing of the tool, rather than a necessary function for how you interact with the world.
The goal of my method then, is not to create proficiency in this or that exercise, or to improve the body in comparison to any external standard. The goal is to create a specific feeling in the practitioner, an awareness of what feels “right” and to match that feeling of “rightness” with the musculoskeletal system’s predetermined specifications for “rightness”.
This alignment of internal proprioception and external stimuli can accomplish many goals: pain management and elimination, stress reduction, sports performance, injury rehabilitation and strength gains, to name a few.
I have a set of exercises that I’ve designed (or, in some cases, appropriated from other sources) ranging from the subtle to the athletic but, really, any set of movements can employed to this end. Everybody has their way of moving—yoga, running, Pilates, weight lifting, martial arts, cycling—but what we all do is so much less important than how well we understand how it works. Some things need specialists: we can’t all be surgeons, electricians and programmers. We can all be movers. Everything it takes to understand your body is already in your body. It comes stock with being human.
This understanding can be of an analytical type, where the latin names of the tissues, their origins and insertions and the minutae of their neuromuscular firing patterns are at the center of this concept of “right-ness”. This, however, is not the only way to understand the body and it is certainly not the only way to be in it.
It doesn’t require a word of latin or any knowledge at all of human physiology to pay attention to how you feel. It requires a great deal of patience, however, to use that information for something other than judgement. When you figure it out, though, that’s what it means to be reembodied.