I used to be a dancer. Got bitten by ballet at the age of four, and pursued it with pathological focus until the age of seventeen, when I abruptly quit and devoted myself to breakdancing at indy-rock clubs instead.
At the same time, I studied anatomy and physiology in a pre-med level of detail, complete–I suppose–with all the kinesiology any good bodyworker might need. Muscular origin, insertion, action, antagonist. I memorized enough to ace the exams, but none of it made any intuitive sense to me.
Because any being who inhabits movement–which is all of us–rarely, if ever, flexes a muscle in isolation. We move in curves. Long, seamless, coordinated curves. Watch a cat when it makes a considering remark with its tail, and ask if it knows from infra-spinous flexion, or if it’s got calculus wired into its brain.
Calculus, now, that makes sense. You determine a curve by calculating the rate of change at every point along it–by measuring movement. And movement is meaningless unless it is relative to something else, maybe everything else.
Grace of movement, then, is about connection. An injury is a violent disconnection; a block or a restriction is a subtle one. The practice of bodywork is the re-integration of broken connections.
Last week I checked in with a regular client who lives with chronic pain. I was concerned that, on an objective scale, he wasn’t seeing sufficient improvement over time, and wondered if the work was valuable to him.
“Oh, it’s priceless,” he replied. “Every week, when I am on the table and for several hours afterward, I feel no pain. I feel light, my mind is clear. It’s the best I feel, ever.”
May you experience grace in every moment.