Monday, November 16, 2009

Gyrokinesis: inviting the whole body to finess

I did not know what to expect last week when I was invited to join up with a Gyrokinesis class for the night! I was thrilled when Susan asked me to sit in! Susan is a friend, a fitness writer for Metro Magazine here and a gyrokinesis trainer here. I didn't know what to expect, I knew it had to do with movement! (thus the movement posts this past week!) She fell in love with gyrokinesis because of the fluid movement and the connection she felt to her body when she practiced it. There was a contrast in balance and movement to the martial arts she had practiced for so long as well. Soon, she was a certified trainer and soon, I was sitting in the front row of her class, in the middle of a mat and on a stool.

Fit this, girl!
Did I ever!

The Gyrotonic Health Network defines it this way:

GYROKINESIS® exercises allow one to work on the entire body through seven natural elements of spinal movement: forward, backward, left side, right side, left twist, right twist and circular, as well as all other joint articulation. This approach systematically and gently works the joints and muscles through rhythmic and undulating movements. These movements stimulate the body's internal organs while different corresponding breathing patterns are integrated along with the movements.

Fluidity is the key. Postures are not held for long periods of time. Instead, postures are smoothly and harmoniously connected through the use of breath, making exercises appear and feel more like a dance and swimming than like traditional yoga.

Here is what I noticed about it right away:

The breathing. Although we were stretching and moving through poses much like one would in yoga, the breathing was not the same at all. The focus is on emptying your body, creating space inside, between your ribs, your vertebrate. To do this, Susan was taking in sharp breaths and then pushing them out till she had no more. There was something about the full exhale that made me feel like there was more room to move, twist or stretch a little deeper. Susan said her trainer described it as the body being like a bellows, constantly moving in and out. That, I got.
Holding the poses. We were not holding the poses as we would in yoga. We moved through them, sometimes quickly but as if we were flowing. One pose in particular had us on the floor with our legs fanned out around us like the photo below:

This pose moved from left to right beginning and ending like the picture above. The move in between, brought our legs forward, into a v shape, with our chest moving across in a circular motion reaching forward and upward till we moved across ending with the legs fanned out to the other side. It was as if we were turning pages of a book and our body was that book. Instead of holding a warrior pose for 60 seconds, we were moving every 2 seconds from one position to the next, stretching and reaching and emptying as we moved. I found it foreign and hard, but I liked it also.

Little movements: there was a lot of pointing and flexing toes and finger tip reaching. The little things DO matter. When we acknowledge and engage the little parts that do all our bidding for us, they love it and they thank us in a big way.

Curving and arching my spine. This is one part that was difficult, moving my spine the way that I was supposed to. After we were warmed up and began the movements my body took a while to adjust to moving my spine and pelvis the way I should. Engaging my spine that way was very freeing and by the end of the class felt SO good. It was part of my discovery that natural movement can get lost in the fitness world, that engaging the spine and truly moving from our center can get pushed aside as we move, run and stretch with our legs & lift, push and pull with our arms. When these movements engage the spine, and come from the core, the whole body is invited to fitness.

after the class, feeling fluid and fine!

We did some core work before we wrapped up. I need to take core work more seriously and add it to the end or beginning of every workout. This was a great introduction to Gyrokinesis and to connecting to my body again after what feels like a long time away. I have added moves from this class into my nightly stretches to get the most out of every stretch. Even more on movement soon!

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