Weekly musings, 2/11/18: Movement choices and one arm handstands
At a workshop yesterday, one of the participants asked about the one arm handstand. Specifically, he wanted to know the steps he could take to actually achieve the one arm handstand.
The instructor (who practices one arm handstands on a semi-regular basis), began by assessing his ability to rock both and forth while he was on both hands. He could do that without much trouble, so they began working on the next progression, which was challenging for the participant. He rotated his pelvis and fell as soon as his legs were in a wider position.
To help the participant feel what he was doing, the instructor placed him against a wall and had him do the same drill. This time, because the wall was in the way, he was unable to rotate his pelvis. Suddenly, the issue wasn’t the participant’s ability to balance; it was the large amount of work he felt in the stabilizing arm and shoulder. He came down, with a look of surprise on his face.
“When I got my one arm handstand,” the instructor said, “I did it by muscling through it. I wasn’t stacked and my line wasn’t efficient. Another coach reached out to me and told me I needed to stack the joints, just like I would in a handstand. As soon as I did that, even though the work felt harder at first, it was eventually much easier to maintain. If you learn how to be efficient now during the progressions, the one arm handstand will actually be easier than if you muscle your way through each step.”
We all have a choice when it comes to learning movement. I muscled my way through just about every skill I learned the first eight years of my movement journey. As I re-learned everything, gaining efficiency was challenging. I tapped into different stabilizing patterns, which caused the sensation of muscular effort in a different way. I learned to slow down, and see if I could do things easily, which conflicted with my go-go-go personality.
Eventually, the sensation of muscular work and the internal battle over wanting to “get it done now” gave way to something else, something that made movement more enjoyable, more fluid. There is no right or wrong way to learn a skill, but if you take the time to break it apart, practice the pieces, and find efficiency, your path will be more direct than mine. Embrace the process.