Working on Balance

Been thinking about balance,
Partly because I was at the gym doing the other day, doing Pilates and the Pilates teacher always has, like, a namasté moment at the end of class where we sit cross legged on our mats while she shares some deep thoughts,
-and that sounds like I’m making fun of her but I’m totally not, she really lays some profound stuff on us and I totally mean that for legit Gentle Reader-
Anyway, this particular day we are sitting cross legged on our mats and she starts talking about balance and the importance of balance in our lives and I’m about to roll my eyes so hard, because I’m expecting some kinda chirpy women’s magazine type advice, like Play As Hard As You Work! or Make Time For Youuuuu!
But no, what she actually says is, “try brushing your teeth with your other hand”.
Like, literally. Balance.
The thought being that breaking out of your usual physical pattern can give you a new perspective, or, at minimum, allow you to actually experience the moment instead of being on autopilot.
Haven’t actually tried brushing my teeth with the other hand yet though. By that point in my routine I am fully on autopilot already and there’s not stopping that train. Or, plane. Pilot?
Anyway, also thinking about balance lately because the boy started walking about a month ago, and it is the most amazing thing. In those first weeks, I’d see him crawl over to a chair, pull himself up to stand, and then walk off and I’d be like what the hell is holding him up?!??!!!! It’s seriously magical. Nothing has visibly changed, but, like, suddenly there he is, walking, crossing the open territory of the living room on his ridiculous chubby legs, instead of cruising along the edges.
Incidentally, that is how the Adult Beginner ice-skates. Creep along the edge by the rail. Never venture out into open territory. Scary out there.
But the boy isn’t scared.
Also thinking about balance lately because this other ballet class I’ve been taking lately, the one not with Smirnoff, all the corrections I get are on posture and placement.
All of them.
They’re all directed at the shoulder-to-hip department. Lean forward here, scoop this under, imagine there’s a line here and shorten the line.
It’s funny, at first I was feeling Super. Proud. of the fact that other people were getting corrected on things like sickle-ing their feet and I’d be all in my head like, “oh girl, no! Present those heels! The heels are the face of the foot! Don’t you know?!” and feel all proud of my presented heels,
and then I’d realized I probably shouldn’t be all smug because the corrections I’m getting are on the most basic stuff: just standing there.
Makes me wonder what it’s like for teachers, I mean, I wonder if they go home and think over class and wonder how the heck a student can know this part and that part but totally have missed this other really major thing.
I wonder if it feels good for teachers to get in there and fix these things.
Like, I really like it at my job when I get to fix a vintage garment, like, open it up, take out and replace the old interfacing, invisibly darn the holes by the buttons, take the old piping out of the seams and replace it with something fresh. It feels good to leave something in a better state than I found it, and to know it’s got that much more life in it now because I fixed it.
I also get corrected about keeping square. Apparently I have a tendency to open my arm and upper body out toward the mirror when I’m at the barre. Smirnoff does not correct me on this, which makes me think that maybe he’s cool with it, like maybe in his aesthetic its a big, dramatic, generous inclusion of the imaginary audience in the mirror, not just “breaking the square”. Which sounds sort of witchy. You’re safe within your magical square of incantations, don’t break the square.
Anyway, so balance. This new class is taught in that style where every barre exercise ends in a moment of balance, on both feet in sous sou, or on one foot in passé, and this is when I get most of my corrections.
And I’m super excited to think that maybe with all these postural corrections I will finally get balance.
This is my big goal lately, to find balance, not in life but actually in the body, in the core where it all has to start anyway.


About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
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8 Responses to Working on Balance

  1. Katy says:

    Hurrah for philosophical Pilates teachers!

    I like to get students to climb the stairs with the other foot first, it’s surprisingly difficult!

    Teaching movement is funny, sometimes you can see that people understand what they should do, but their brains and bodies haven’t connected yet. Other times it’s more like wack-a-mole, where some unexpected movement appears as another is repressed.

    Congratulations to your wee man! I love the drunk Frankenstein phase!

  2. Eirin says:

    I’ve noticed that my teachers often select certain things they correct their students on.. Like, for one period of time they will focus on your turnout and your hands and then they nag on about those things all the time. Then, when they are satisfied they pick out something else you’ve been doing wrong like posture and then they nag on about that until they are satisfied with that.
    I think it is a way to be nice and not throw everything on you at the same time, but sometimes I just want them to tell me straight away if I’m doing something silly wrong so I don’t do it forever then have to change it!

  3. nicola lynde says:

    I started a technique class in the fall and for the first time in my adult ballet experience each exercise ending with a balance of some sort followed by a return to the starting position (1st, 5th whateves) with perfect position, arm position, and head turned out. At first I scoffed a little, I mean it’s not as if I will ever be in a professional class, but I’ve come to really appreciate it. I even make sure to hold a proper position in all of my other classes where it isn’t a requirement. I think it is an important part of ballet, and of finding balance and posture and all of those things in between. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Just thought you guys might like to know:
    Immediately after hitting publish on this post *about balance* I handed the baby monitor over to my husband and went out for a jog-
    first time running without the baby in the jogging stroller, just running along, solo
    -And I totally tripped and fell over.

  5. Jecca says:

    Ha! and Oh no! I hope you weren’t injured in your fall.

    When I was in an intensive foreign-language course, one of the instructors told us to do things with the non-dominant hand (like brushing our teeth). She said that it forces the brain to use different neural pathways and actually can improve your memory. And in my adult ballet class, we talk all the time about “ballet for brain health!” since complicated combinations and doing everything both left and right is surely working our brains hard enough that dementia won’t have a chance.

    I’ve also realized recently just how important core strength and pulling up are for balance in ballet. Like, I mean, my teachers have been telling me that since I was eight years old, but I never really *got* it. And now that I get it at least somewhat, wow do I see how my posture and placement need to improve.

    • Yes! It’s amazing to get it and to actually get some physical corrections, like it’s not just “pull up”, but an actual hand on the back, like specific areas to move in specific ways. I’m so excited about balance!!!
      And thanks! I got some pretty sweet looking bruises when I fell but it didn’t actually hurt much, I mostly just felt like a dork.

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