Clean and Elegant

Clean and Elegant

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Move Your DNA, by Katy Bowman

I will remain forever grateful to Halifax’s belly dance star Laura Selenzi. Knowing how obsessed I was with my own and everyone else’s pelvis, one day Laura said to me, “You know, I think you’d really like Katy Bowman.”

The Dazzling Laura Selenzi
Check out Serpentine Studios for Laura's belly dancing classes in Halifax

So I rushed over to her blog, (now !) where I found all sorts of ramblings and the pelvis and the pelvic floor, as well as any other musculoskeletal issue you can think of. One of her posts is even called “Ramblingsfrom my pelvic floor.” You should read it. You learn how to make pelvises and penises plural. In more than one way.

Three years later, I continue to follow Katy’s work religiously.  What a delight it was to learn that she would be coming to Halifax to launch her new and highly exciting book, “Move Your DNA.”  Obviously, I attended. For those of you who have never met Katy Bowman, she glows and radiates. She looks like all the cells in her body are delighted.

Katy considers “Move Your DNA” to be her life’s work. You can usually tell when people are in the midst of their life’s work. Their cells radiate.

Katy radiating with a pelvis
(Photo Found Here)

Pretty much, the thesis of Katy’s book is that human bodies in the modern world have adapted to a life in captivity. Our cages are the modern conveniences of life-chairs, beds, cars, couches, houses, elevators, refrigerators, strollers, shopping carts and various electronic devices that outsource any physical activity you can think of. All the cells in our bodies have morphed to accommodate the movement that these modern conveniences demand of us. This means that our bodies are only equipped to do hardly any movement at all. This isn’t about simply preventing obesity. Our chronic “movement drought,” as Katy calls it, affects every cell in our body, leading to everything from cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, deteriorating joints, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. And you can’t just fix the biological repercussions of our life in captivity by going to the gym for forty-five minutes three to four times a week. (And maybe not even by doing yoga neurotically every morning at 5 a.m.)

So what can we do?
At the talk on Thursday, Katy generously gave us a few tips on how to get started.  

Step One: Most of the shoes of the world mess up your feet and your feet are really important.
From stilettos to sneakers, any kind of high heel distorts the angle at which your whole body touches the ground. This results in inappropriate loading that can damage every joint from the ground up. Shoes with stiff soles prevent your feet from accessing their full range of motion. And the only way to move forward with flip flops is to grip and scrunch up your toes which is not very healthy. Ideally, you should be able to spread your toes like a cave man, with and without your shoes on.  Katy devotes a whole section of “Move Your DNA” to her essential foot wisdom. Practice her strengthening and mobility exercises and you too will get your very own troll toes. If you want to go even deeper, I recommend reading Katy’s other big hit, “Every Woman’s Guide to Foot Pain Relief.”  (Now available in a new revised, gender-neutral version: Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief !) I devoured this book in one evening and got hooked on the exercises right away.

Step Two: Try not to sit on chairs and furniture that call out to you and say, “Hey, sit on me and don’t do anything.”
I work at a Montessori school and the children I work with are mostly terrible at sitting on chairs. They wriggle around from one butt cheek to another, or they rock the chair back and forth, or they try to stand up. Getting kids to sit in chairs is a terrifying battle.  At least once a week, I like to rant about how sitting in chairs tightens the groins, weakens the lower back and puts children on an early path towards cardiovascular disease, pelvic floor problems, osteoporosis and very sore joints.

There are minimal health benefits to sitting in a chair, and yet, as Katy describes the typical childhood in her book,  
“After a couple of years, sitting still in your chair would be your most-practiced skill, trumping time spent reading, writing, playing games, and physical education in school. Like a ninja of sitting, you practiced sitting still in a chair more than any other activity, with hours and hours in training, with no other learned activity even coming close in time spent practicing.”

-Katy Bowman in "Move Your DNA"
It’s time to start practicing new positions. In her work, Katy cites physical anthropology professor Gordon W. Hewes study, World Distribution of Certain Postural Habits. Hewes examined 100 different resting postures from all around the world.  As fate would have it, almost none of these positions involve chairs.

Alternatives to sitting in a chair. From Hewes "World Distribution of Certain Postural Habits"
Notice how nobody's at a standing desk. (Here is what Katy says about that...)

Katy suggests exposing children to this poster to give them different ideas on how they can be still and focus. Perhaps having twenty kids sit at tables to eat lunch once a day isn’t the end of the world, but Katy encourages teachers and caregivers to be creative and “think beyond the chair.” The day after Katy’s talk, it was my co-worker who had the brilliant idea of helping the kids build a fort in the gym on a day full of thunderstorms. Giggling uncontrollably, all the kids crawled in and we passed them their watermelon and crackers, which they ate on the floor. I thought this was a happy ending.

Step Three: Spend more time outside
Katy says that our relationship to nature is essential. The broad spectrum of movement required to keep your body healthy spreads far beyond running on a treadmill for an hour in an air conditioned room. Goosebumps count as movements. Sweating counts. So does your skin’s response to the wind blowing your arm hair. Easy. Inside, your life can easily regress to staring at different sizes of glaring rectangles all day. But outside, you can look at the clouds, the chipmunks and the funny looking Nordic Pole Walking People. Your eyes have muscles too. For many people, these muscles are always scrunched into one position. Go outside and un-scrunch them.

Step Four: Walk more often.
Walking is great because it uses a vast majority of the muscles in your body. The best would be to walk outside. Then you can get your goosebumps and people watching in. Most of us have adapted to walking on flat, hard surfaces. Try to gradually vary your walking surfaces so that your cells can expand their range of motion.  And pay close attention to your footwear choices.

So here are some simple ways you can start to mobilize and transform the trillions of cells inside of you. As Katy says in her introduction, "this is a serious call to movement - serious, but not unpleasant."  She goes on to say that thousands of her readers and students "have found the physical, psychological, and emotional shift that comes with this material to be profound and delightful..." "Move Your DNA" isn't about frantically avoiding illness with a neurotic checklist, but rather looking for healing opportunities within your daily life. And the range of healing opportunities is huge. You don't have to throw out all your furniture and build monkey bars in your living room to experience noticeable benefits.  Although some people say that's kind of a fun time...
The End.

Thank you Katy, Penelope Jackson (Katy's excellent editor) and  Nurtured Products for Parenting for the extra fun evening. And to Laura Selenzi for her transformative recommendation.

Irresistible Photo Op:

I have some serious knee flexion in this photo. Well, my DNA makes longer shapes than Katy's does. Also, I am much more delighted than I look.
Follow Katy on Twitter: @NutritiousMvmnt

Katy's New Website:

A couple of Katy's books:
(She has written a whole bunch!)

Move Your DNA 
Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief
Whole Body Barefoot

Exuberant Bodhisattva on Facebook
Twitter: @mypelvicfloor
I Let Go, self-help book by Erica J. Schmidt

The Potty Party
Three Things to Make the World a Better Place
Business Ideas. On a Tuesday. 

No comments:

Post a Comment