Movement, the body, and seeing things differently

A client sent me this text one day, and I had no idea it was going to change my life.


I’ll admit that at first I wondered, “What does a ‘workout’ person have to teach me? They don't even know about core distortion ...“

If you don’t know what core distortion is, it’s a universal body pattern taught in Don McCann's Structural Energetic Therapy training. This work is the foundation of my body knowledge, and it is a lens through which I am always looking.

Ironically, it’s easy to begin to discount other approaches and therapies because core distortion seems like an idea that when missed, makes a big difference. The basic idea is that there is an underlying pattern in our bodies where the left ilium (or hip bone) tends to have an anterior rotation (rotates towards the front) while the right ilium tends to have a posterior rotation (rotates towards the back). This creates a zigzag of compensation up the spine, which is mirrored in the cranial bones and affects the entire body.

When we as therapists take this body pattern into account while structurally approaching pain relief, it strengthens the power of our results. The body can start to build structural integrity in a new way. I can say for myself that without "releasing the body from core distortion," there is only so much progress that can be made because the body is still maintaining a precarious holding pattern that can cause other problems over time.

But that's not the whole story.

When I saw the client who sent me that text a week or two later, she started telling me about this author, Katy Bowman.

"So I've been squatting more and walking barefoot outside."

"You should see her home. She doesn't have any furniture. Just a wooden bench for guests, but it's to help encourage movement."

"Yeah, and she's like, 'No to Kegels,' because that's just one group of muscles and we're missing strengthening the whole pelvic floor."

Hmm. I became intrigued. I think what got me was the idea of missing something, of getting a much greater idea of something. That something being the body. I've been studying the body for a decade now, and I could tell by my client's experience and enthusiasm that there was something for me to learn here.

This is not the first time this client helped me come back to my body. Last fall, I was rear-ended and my car was totaled. The moment it happened I prayed, "Please don't let me be injured." I've worked with many clients over the years with car accident injuries, which often completely transformed their lives in all kinds of ways. My biggest fear was having to live with chronic pain and having to go through the hard work of recovery.

I suppose I got lucky in that my injury isn't really painful, but it’s annoying enough for me to know something isn't right. It motivates me to take care of what's going on as best as I can.

Right when this accident happened, I thought of this client. She also had a car accident maybe six months before I did, and we had been working together to help her recover. She's been an ally in my own healing in so many ways, including recommending that I see a Feldenkrais therapist in addition to my massage therapist.

I also had to get over the "I-know-about-core-distortion-so-what-can-you-do-for-me" mentality to go see this Feldenkrais therapist. And OMG I'm so grateful that I did. I’d already been seeing her for a few weeks when I learned about Katy Bowman.

After talking with my client about this whole "Move Your DNA" thing, I decided to give the podcast a go. The next morning I was driving across the Bay to see the Feldenkrais therapist, so I put the podcast on for the 45-minute ride over. I listened to the latest episode. By the time I was halfway across the bridge, I knew this was the beginning of understanding the body, movement, and how to heal more deeply.

Katy Bowman is a biomechanist, someone who studies movement. Her understanding of movement goes far beyond our individual bodies. She has an incredible way of presenting complex ideas about how and why to move our bodies for the general public.

Listening to that one podcast turned into a month-long study of her work and my body. I dare say that I've walked far more this month than any other month ever. I've done far less sitting, and as far as I'm concerned, this is the new normal. I've never felt so in my body. But it's not just that, I've never felt so in my community either.

Having helped many people create better structural balance and alignment in their bodies, I now realize that movement is the next missing piece. Before, I was viewing my clients, and my life, through the lens of the sedentary culture we live in—unable to see the ways in which I avoided movement. This paradigm shift feels as significant to me as discovering feminism in college, and realizing that I was wearing the lens of a patriarchal culture.

I'll never be the same.

I now wear the lens of movement, which changes the way I view the world, think of my work, and assess priorities. It feels good to try on another way of seeing. Perhaps just like how our eyes need to look at things far away, we can benefit from expanding our perspectives, especially if we know we tend to only wear the same glasses most of the time.

It’s so hard to know what lens we’re wearing. That is, until someone else says, “Hey, try these on.”

Have you had a major shift in perspective lately? By sharing these shifts, we can help each other find more ways of seeing this beautiful and complex world we live in.