SLF Masterclass Instructor Lorna Samatas wrote this great article for The Dailey Method about things to un-learn this summer. Do you have any other things on your personal list to un-learn this summer, this year, or in this lifetime? Let us know what they are on our Facebook page. We will meet you there!
Summer is here, school is out – are you ready to “un-learn” some things? As a fitness and wellness teacher, I am often preoccupied with thoughts about how to best convey the alignment principle, exercise or theme of the day. I am passionate about learning! But, I have to admit, when it comes to the health and happiness of your spine and body, we may all benefit from some forgetting. Un-learning these FOUR things this summer could be life-changing!
1) Un-learn the way you stand – You’re probably standing wrong, and walking wrong and if you run, running wrong (boo- bad news) but it’s not your fault (yay- good news!) Better yet, the solution is right under your nose (literally) – it’s your feet! Those beautiful bare feet (possibly wrapped right now in a pair of “performance” shoes?) are nothing short of a miracle. Think about it! It took millions of years in the laboratory of human evolution for our bi-pedal foundation to be created. Shoes are a “new” invention, which (fun and fashionable as they may be) have rendered our bodies incapable of a biomechanically natural gait. Want to learn how to align your spine and entire body from the foundation up? First you must un-learn your shoe-wearing way of standing, walking and running because it’s not optimal, and will likely cause you pain in the long run. On the contrary, a little un-learning will go a long way! Take off your shoe and look at your foot. Does your foot still look pretty much like the shape of a shoe? Spread your toes… find some grass or dirt… absorb some of the Earth’s free electrons and re-connect with your feet. They are far smarter than you think.
2) Un-learn computer neck – If you’re like me, you get plenty of “computer neck” practice every day – and it’s not just while sitting at the computer. Looking at your phone and texting? (Computer neck.) Driving? (Computer neck.) Reading? (Computer neck) Sitting on the floor for some QT with the kids? (Computer neck.) Zoned out in front of the TV? (Computer neck.) “Computer neck” happens any time our head comes forward, removing the natural cervical curve from our neck, which is an extension of our spine. Computer neck also usually comes with the lovely benefits of rounded shoulders, a protruding belly and a slumped, low-energy posture (sarcasm here.) Yep – life sometimes pulls us out of alignment (but that’s ok!) and a little un– learning can be super helpful and freeing. Try it now: Draw your throat (your hyoid bone) back, feeling your ears naturally align over your shoulders. When you move your throat back, you probably also will feel your shoulder blades move down your back in a “v” and you may feel your heart naturally open. Your body already knows how to do this because it is part of optimal “plumb-line alignment” (see #1/feet for the other end of that equation!) Ears/shoulders/ribs/hips/heels all want to align with one another in our bodies. Computer neck is something we’re inventing – it’s a great one to let go and un-learn.
3) Un-learn stress breathing and reacting – If you’re like most people, you probably don’t spend too much time thinking about your breath throughout the course of a day. How are you breathing right this minute? Your body breathes you (so to speak) and that, also, is a pretty awesome miracle. But sometimes our fight or flight reactions kick in when we don’t necessarily want them to. For example, in a stressful life situation like an intense business meeting, or a fight with your partner, or even a challenging exercise class, you might hold your breath and/or tense up (I sometimes call this the bear-chasing-you response!) We start to think it is “normal” to be flooded or overtaken by this adrenaline-fed monster every time we find ourselves amidst challenge, and then we also think it’s “normal” to react the way we do. Guess what? Odds are you are not being chased by a bear 99% of the time you experience stress. You’re safe. You’re facing a challenge, but you’re ok. Notice what’s actually happening, be present, and breathe deeply. Your body will take cues from your breathing, and “come back down” to a centered place. When you are calm and centered, all your body’s systems operate and function optimally. When you un-learn reaction, you make room for response. This practice is called mindfulness, and it’s a great thing to learn (once you’re done reading this blog about un-learning.)
4) Un-learn your “normal” routine – Let’s keep this one short and sweet. Life is both of those things (short and sweet!) and none of us wants to spend our life in a state of mindless, unconscious, reactive routine. Yet, every day we probably find ourselves repeating some silly, unhealthy learned pattern. Wouldn’t it be amazing to commit to un-learning just one of those old patterns? Why not start NOW? TODAY?! Take off your shoes. Turn off the computer. Breathe. Be present. Find something healthy that makes you feel good, and do it often! Enjoy your new habit! If you try something new and it doesn’t feel right, try another thing until you find something that suits you. Own it. Love it. After all, life is short – and we’ve got a lot of un-learning to do.