When we are young and healthy, we don’t tend to give movement much thought – we get out of bed each morning, get dressed, exercise, work, play, and relax without much conscious thought applied to HOW that all happens in our bodies. We take for granted the healthy functional movement of our bodies. As we age - and perhaps encounter our first injuries, aches and pains - we may suddenly become more aware and interested in how we can heal injuries that do occur – and better yet, how we can prevent them in the first place. The great news is that an alignment-based practice like The Dailey Method empowers us to stay healthy and strong in our bodies throughout the years. By training our brains and bodies to be more aware and more intentional in our movements, we can experience freedom and happiness in our bodies regardless of age. In fact, many “older” students report feeling significantly better about their body health and strength at their current age thanks to their TDM practice!
So what’s the “secret” to learning how to MOVE with ease and freedom? Structure and boundaries. We experience freedom of movement by having structure (when we ALIGN our bones intelligently & intentionally) as well as boundaries (when we ENGAGE the support of muscles to set safe boundaries). While words like “structure” and “boundaries” may sound limiting and un-fun, they actually are not. The same way children grow and thrive with healthy structure and boundaries, our bodies crave support and balance. If we are sedentary, our body and movement boundaries remain stagnant and typically become more limiting with time and age. On the other hand, if we engage in regular TDM practice, our boundaries EVOLVE continuously! With understanding and practice comes awareness, engagement, support, strength, flexibility and balance. Each new challenge creates change, and each time we practice is an opportunity to meet and embrace our BEST selves here and now.
I encourage students each time they practice to “check in” mentally and physically again & again – notice your alignment, engagement (also notice your thoughts and internal dialogues) and always ask if you are supporting yourself in the best way you can right now. Then notice if you are working at your edge – if you consistently work at your edge, your circle (your boundary) will continue to expand, so the practice never ends. In fact, the practice becomes so ingrained that it becomes part of your everyday life. I truly love how even after 14 years of my Dailey Method practice I still can continually find better alignment, deeper engagement, a new edge and positions of greater ease. I feel like my boundaries will always continue to expand and that’s exciting!
As you bring awareness to how you MOVE this month, I encourage you to do the following:
- Always “check in” to make sure you align and engage to the best of your ability first. Always move from a place of stability and support. Set your safe boundaries with muscle engagement. Every body is different.
- Sometimes, choose not to move. It is an advanced practice to know when your alignment and engagement are telling you to re-set, stay in a base position, or modify an exercise. Often times just taking a moment of stillness and focusing on one or two breaths will allow you to come back to that reset. Every day will be different, so allow that – don’t let a setback, sickness, injury or off-day discourage you; use it as an opportunity to simply practice and let go of expectations. Where you are is perfect.
- When you choose to move, move while maintaining alignment and engagement. Experience those things as your supportive structure and boundaries. Feel empowered by your ability to create that structure for yourself.
- Find your edge. When you feel mindfully aligned and engaged, you don’t have to play it safe right in the middle of your comfort zone – TRUST the work you’ve done & try to move and challenge yourself! Check back in: Are you still aligned and engaged while moving? If so, can you push even closer to your new edge today? Again, every day will be different so embrace your personal change and progress!
- “Move and Breathe.” I stole this from one of my favorite parenting coaches, Cathy Cassani Adams, who is a TDM student. It really is that simple. Be present. Be aware. Connect your movements with breath. Feel your body as you Move and Breathe.
- Feel the Dailey Dance. Movement in TDM should feel fluid & graceful, and there should always be an element of ease. Let your inner dancer shine out. Be in the flow of your practice and your life.
- ENJOY! When you move with the support of structure and boundaries it should feel GOOD. Appreciate what it’s like to FEEL GOOD IN YOUR BODY. Don’t take it for granted, and recognize the work you have done to make this freedom possible.
Move with intention this month. We’ll be with you every step of the way!
-- Jill and Lorna