When I think about movement culture and what it means to me, I cannot give the same answer everyday. I was hesitant about the right timing to share this until I realized that my brain acquires new input everyday, thus, there is no such perfect timing to share thoughts about my practice. I can share the little I know, whenever. Movement culture has been an endless learning process since the day I decided to walk in The Bamboo Body facility, without having any previous knowledge of Ido Portal’s work.
I competed in different sports before I was introduced to Ido’s work. I swam in the London 2012 Olympic Games, five world swimming championships and other international games and championships, fenced for 3 years with the national team and did basic volleyball with my school. A few weeks after practicing at the facility, I began to understand that it was not only about the physical practice but that we also train the mind -my weakest point.
For the first months of my practice, I had to practice before practice. I’d get nervous if I was at practice and I wasn’t moving. In swimming, you stop for a maximum of 1 minute when the coach is talking and that’s it, for two hours. I was used to practicing seven hours a day. Little by little, I realized that I have been ditching the mental practice for years, which meant I was not practicing movement as an integrative concept.
For the first time, I tried to practice movement as a whole, without preparing for competitions and big events. For the first time, there was no taper week or even holidays because movement practice is just… movement. I move everyday. Step by step, I learnt how to use body weight in a much more functional and practical way wherever and whenever. I don’t feel attached to gym machines anymore and I can play wherever I want.
I learnt and grew thoughts about so many concepts and I’ll mention a few below
For me, stillness is the most difficult practice. I didn’t understand how being still was a practice. I knew it was important but I never focused on it as much as the physical part. During my sports career, I had done a lot of visualization work that helped me to focus on each race. I visualized all my races so many times, I knew what I needed to think about every second. Nothing was new. Especially in sprint swimming, every detail is important, I knew in which meter I was going to breathe, since it is only one breath that I take in a 50 meter butterfly race for an example. That mind work was so important. Think about it, so many years of work for a race that does not even last half of a minute. Anything could happen, imagine looking at the crowd and just getting a panic attack all of a sudden. Your sports career could be over and the sequences that come after could be even worse because you are representing a country and not yourself.
All that said, however, visualization is different than being still, slowing down, focusing on breath or a specific object, etc. That is what I had left behind. I am used to go, go, go nonstop and that’s my modus operandi to accomplish things. At least I am aware of it now.
I thought movement practice was never going to cause any injuries like elite sports caused me, but that was not true. I am a human and injuries are a part of my process. I do my best to avoid them. But, if they occur, I focus on other concepts while I am not able to work on the injured areas. Injuries remind me to take it slower. Injuries are basically our bodies speaking to us. It’s not easy at all and I still get frustrated after all, but I now believe that injuries are not a bad thing as most of us see them. I learnt something from every injury I’ve had.
Who doesn’t want to learn how to hold a handstand for a long time?
I’ve always loved gymnastics and I was excited to develop that hobby.
I was so excited to be able to do stuff upside down. Later on, I stopped seeing handstands like I did before. It was not a show, it was not something I would wow about anymore. I am never as focused as I am when I’m upside down. It started to be a way to bring the focus I never felt, and from that position, I can do a lot of other movements with my body. The only thing that I should not have forgotten was that some people still saw handstands differently and I was once nearly fired from my job because I did a handstand at work to bring more focus and freshly start my day. Later on, I started to be able to have conversations while being upside down because I can control it without thinking. Wait no, I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want my handstand to become a normal state because I want to feel that focus and move with consciousness. The good thing about movement is that I never stop learning, I don’t get bored because once I learn a skill I move to something else. I don’t become perfect at it, I don’t compete. I repeat and drill it just like a competitor but instead, it is about helping others to grow and that is what makes it a community.
Okey I’ll be straight forward: I do not often pay much attention. That’s another journey itself. It wasn’t me who realized it, obviously, how would a person that doesn’t pay attention, pay attention to the fact that they don’t pay attention? For months I’d just notice that my attention span didn’t last long while I reading, watching something or practicing, but at the same time, whenever I concentrate on bringing so much focus when I really need to, especially with new tasks, there is no possible distraction. Only later my teacher brought it up and I confirmed it was true.
There was a butterfly figure hung in my living room and I only realized it was there after several months of living there. I’m always on a rush, always thinking of what’s next. I don’t relax, I don’t rest and I usually associate sitting on a chair/ floor with eating.
I didn’t really prioritize my movement practice till I traveled to San Francisco to join Johnny Sapinoso’s amazing movement group. Something shifted then because I dedicated 45 days to this practice. Only then, I started to understand the concept as a whole, after hours of practice and chats with other practitioners.
Finally, I believe the process is about learning how to enjoy failure at new tasks, and convincing yourself that repetition is worth it. We do not always have to do the skills we know. If you pass by Barceloneta beach and find me in a corner struggling to juggle or kick a ball, you will probably think that I am a total fool and that’s the beauty of an ‘endless learning process’. I don’t often notice people’s reactions that would be another interesting task though!
There. I shared a few of my thoughts. I always say I have a long way to go and a lot to see, but that’s how it is. It is not supposed to be overwhelming. There were times where I felt ashamed when I didn’t know all the answers regarding sports, I thought that, since I’ve been doing sport since I was five, I had to know everything. Well, there’s no way one can know it all and those who say they do are the first ones we cannot trust in. I will be attending my first European Movement Meeting next week in Lisbon, Portugal. Who knows? I might come back with a whole new series of new information and more ideas. That’s what I love about movement culture and I believe everyone should practice it, as a whole.
Photo courtesy: Yuriy Ogarkov/Carlos Rivera