Welcome to lesson 2! I hope you had a chance to work through the change process worksheet included with the last lesson. It will really help you set your intention to realize the changes you want to see as we continue.
Today we’re talking about patterns.
When I hear the word “pattern” I usually think of sewing patterns—which is kind of funny considering that I’m an absolute mess around a sewing machine. But, still... I like the idea of sewing patterns. You’re given a template by which you can recreate the same thing over and over.
The pattern makes your job easier. More efficient. There’s less chance of making a major mistake.
Wins all around.
But patterns go way beyond arts and crafts. There is the pattern of the seasons, the pattern of day and night, the patterns of traffic. There are patterns in nature, music, mathematics, coding, and more. Patterns provide recognition and reliability in life. Patterns help the brain process information and give meaning among what could otherwise feel like chaos.
So what do patterns have to do with movement? And, more importantly, why should you care?
Movement patterns, like a sewing pattern, can make your life easier—more foolproof. Movement patterns help our brains make meaning.
To better understand their value, let’s look at what happens when you don’t utilize movement patterns.
That’s how many fitness programs tend to work—in isolation.
You do a series of exercises aimed to strengthen targeted areas. Sure, you may be asked to consider a couple different body parts at once, but rarely are you told how they are connected and why it matters.
Body connections are important to creating useful patterns of movement. As one of my movement mentors, Peggy Hackney, said:
“The whole body is connected, all parts are in relationship. Change in one part changes the whole.” - Peggy Hackney
Let that really sink in: The whole body is connected. Changing any part—from your pinky to your left shoulder—will mean change throughout the entire body.
Connections matter. Understanding the relationshipswithin your body is important.
But here’s the thing, you have thousands of body parts.
I dare you to try and track them all while doing a squat or running a race. That’s a lot for your brain to take in. And even if you could consider all those many parts while doing something as simple as walking, why would you want to?
So how do you honor the fact that “the whole body is connected” without going, well, crazy?
The answer is simple: Patterns.
Despite the incredible advances in technology, there is still something that we as humans do better than any other man made machine. We are masters at pattern recognition.
In its most basic terms, patterns are observations organized into meaningful categories by the observer.
Let me say that one more time: Patterns are observations organized into meaningful categories by the observer.
When we see patterns we see order instead of chaos. Patterns allow us to think deeper, make meaning, store more information, learn quicker, take appropriate
action, and find simplicity among what can otherwise feel like too much information.
Your brain loves patterns, which is good because, as I mentioned before, there are patterns everywhere.
And yes, there are patterns in your body and in your movement.
To better explain this and to get a grip on why this is important for you, let’s go back to the first few years of your life.
Aw, you were such a cute little baby!
Did you know that your movement IQ began developing within the womb?
Those kicks and pushes against the uterus were sending information to your brain about your body and the world around you. As a baby, basic inborn reflexes and righting reaction—combined with your desire to explore your environment—set up certain recurring patterns.
Simple things like bonding with a parent or sucking your thumb began your journey toward more complex movement.
Those small movements laid a foundation for larger motion. Bonding turned into pushing. Pushing phrased into reaching. Reaching prepared you for pulling. And pulling brought a whole new world to your fingertips.
Slowly you began to build an impressive resume of movement skills. By the time you were two years old you could walk, squat, run, hug, and throw impressive tantrums.
While there are some slight variations from individual to individual, history has revealed a pretty standard pattern for human movement development.
We roll before we crawl. We crawl before we walk. And we walk before we run. Each previous movement—some of which are very subtle—set up a foundation to help you realize the next skill.
Listen up because I’m about to get to the “what’s in it for you” part.
Tell me: How do most two year olds move? Are they struggling with poor posture, back pain, or trick knees? No way! They move with ease, confidence, and a natural beauty.
The problem is, as we get older new patterns from the outside world try to take over our natural, default patterns.
Injuries, emotional stress, peer pressure, trends, fashion, screen time, and other factors introduce new patterns as we repeat them over time.
A broken leg could translate into a pattern that favors one leg over the other. A desk job could translate into a pattern that perpetuates a forward head. A growth spurt that makes you feel awkward could translate into a pattern of slouching that stays with you long into adulthood.
So many of these patterns can make you feel bad about your body. Maybe you feel ugly. Maybe you’re sick of the chronic pain that comes with bad patterning.
The real problem comes, however, when you perceive your flaws or weaknesses in isolation.
“Ugh. I hate my hunched over back.”
“I’m so sick of this nagging pain in my hip.”
“This belly just won’t go away!”
Instead of honing in on the problem, what you really need to do is step back and see the pattern that is reinforcing the issue.
Once you recognize the faulty patterning, you can begin to restore or re-pattern your body back to its default state.
Remember, your body’s natural blueprint is for easy, beautiful, pain-free movement.
The more you are able to reset your body back to its natural patterning, the more clarity, harmony, beauty, and ease you’ll find in your body.
The work we’re going to do throughout the rest of this program is based largely on the system known as the Bartenieff Fundamentals. In this body training system we’re going to look at patterns of the body that reinforce healthy, natural movement.
We’re going to work from principles instead of set exercises. While the complete program includes a nice large sampling of exercises and workouts that reinforce these principles, you can use the patterns you’ll learn here into everything you do. From sitting to weight-lifting, to running, to golfing, to basketball, to hugging, to...
... you get it.
This work isn’t just going to tone your muscles and burn calories. This work is going to get you back to your default. We’re going to reset your habits back to the beautiful, natural, strong patterns your body was designed for.
The lessons that follow will take you through the six Patterns of Total Body Connectivity as well as some of my favorite exercises and movement experiences. The patterns we’ll discuss include:
Breath Patterning Core-Distal Patterning Head-Tail Patterning Upper-Lower Patterning Body-Half Patterning Cross-Lateral Patterning
I’ve created a .pdf worksheet for you to download below. It gives a brief overview of each pattern and some information on how that pattern can serve your body and your life.
Don’t skip ahead as each pattern sets up the foundation for the next. I know some of the beginning work can feel pretty subtle, but I promise it will make all the difference as we move into larger, more complex movement.
The good news is that you don’t need to know or keep track of all 2000+ body parts to see results.
The even better news is that as you focus and retrain these basic patterns the easier the work gets.
Remember to revisit the work as often as you can. You’ll love how you can go deeper with each pattern as you cycle through the entire course. As you give yourself lots of opportunities to practice and recognize those patterns they will become second nature.
Finally, in the same way the whole body is connected, I want you to remember that your whole life is connected. We’re going to look deeply at our movement and how it helps us express our real self to the world. Change in your movement can change your life. It’s really exciting once you get started!
That’s it for today. I want you to get ready to get moving in lesson 3. It’s our first look into the foundational pattern: Breath. I’ll see you there.
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