So I have been reading Eric Franklin’s Dynamic Alignment Through Imagery, a very dense book about body alignment, movement, and imagery that is full of useful information. There is a ton of stuff in here: lots of different things to try, anatomical diagrams, inspiration and motivation. I found myself trying to get through it quickly, then realized that, like learning to skate, some things can’t be rushed. So now it’s part of my daily practice, which entails breaking things down into bits and pieces and then putting them together again.
It’s like the Japanese maple tree in front of our house, which in this year of insanely beautiful fall colors, demands my full attention several times a day. Every day I see something new, even if it has been there for a very long time.
Franklin’s book works really well with the diagnostic skating thing. For instance, my lessons last week had some “light bulb” moments, like Laurie telling me that my body position was partitioned onto too many planes (the geometric kind, though I guess one could think about imaginary airplanes too) at once, or Ari telling me to level out my hips by using the upper thing and hip muscles on my skating side to “hoist up” the free side, not by contracting the muscles on the free side (hitching up the free side) or by moving the spine over (ack, wrong again!).
Franklin has diagrams of the different body planes (in a chapter with the enticing title “Finding Your Center and Befriending Gravity”). And he talks about checking out muscle imbalances by figuring out which muscles are over-developed; this is exactly the problem on my right side, where the muscles around the hip are thick and bulky (no doubt from contracting as much as they can to try to hitch my right side up).
So now I have a new on- and off-ice exercise, which Ari suggested: shifting my weight by using only those skating side muscles to lift the free hip and leg. It takes concentration not only in engaging the skating side muscles, but in letting the other side relax so it doesn’t try to do the work. I’m doing this on both sides, but it’s the left skating hip and leg that definitely need this work. Because of my hip misalignment, the muscles on that side are, to use Franklin’s incredibly graphic term, flaccid.
Yes, flaccid is a term that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
So I don’t end on an image of flaccidity (Franklin thankfully believes in the power of positive thinking and uses that term judiciously), I’ll tell you what he suggests in order to get rid of the negative self-talk that we often use against ourselves. He says that every day we have about 40,000 thoughts. He doesn’t say whether these are new and original thoughts (which in my case, I highly doubt) or whether they repeat themselves (which mine do, sometimes obsessively). We have to think about which are beneficial and which are detrimental, and he recommends thinking about them as if they were guests at a party.
The question, then, is this: Are the guests in my head invited and friendly or people who are here to bother me and my activities? If they are bothersome, it is time to ask them to leave.
Pretty awesome, huh? I would invite Eric Franklin to my party any day.