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Intuitive Movement

posted on June 22, 2023

Earlier this month, I received a deep dive into intuitive movement during a weekend retreat with Bobbie Marchand, professional modern ballet dancer turned yoga instructor, and Nami Soga, master reiki healer and yoga instructor. The experience was both magical and inspiring. 


Coming from a bodybuilding background, my approach to movement has historically been goal-oriented, strategic, structured, and rigid. I spent years training my mind to override the messages of my body, messages of no thank you, I’m tired, not that exercise, not today. If it was on the plan, I did it, regardless of what my body said. The cumulative result of this training was a work ethic and physique I was proud of — along with exhaustion, chronic injury and a general inability to relax. 


As I’ve transitioned into yoga, I’ve found a more compassionate and healing way of interacting with my body. Still, my physical approach to classes has tended to follow an anatomical goal, whether increasing hip mobility, targeting the transversus abdominis or engaging the pelvic floor. My time with Bobbie and Nami invited me to shift my inquiry from What can I achieve? to What do I feel?  To move from a performance mindset to one of playfulness, non-judgment, and curiosity.


We spent time rolling on the ground, feeling the grass beneath our feet and the heat on our skin as we moved through sun salutations to the East, West, North, and South. Our spines waved like serpents in an organic flow, and I watched my body improvise according to music, which changed every minute to a different genre. I felt the natural impact of sound and rhythm on movement, and experimented with the energy-shifting practice of Qigong. I moved through familiar shapes in new ways. I bounced, flailed, shook and sang. And my habitual energy began to shift.


Bobbie believes that, since the pandemic, our bodies have been stuck, almost frozen in time in response to fear and extended sits on our sofas. Moving creatively, intuitively and without regard for what something looks like can help us move into new spaces, not only physically, but mentally as well. New movements mean new neural pathways, and new neural pathways mean new possibilities. Giving ourselves permission to shake the bones of our body like a dog after a swim not only can shed tension, it can shift our nervous systems.


Bobbie’s nervous-system approach to movement also manifests in stillness, in healing practices of self massage and meditation that carried her through cancer treatment. In transitioning from energetic jostling to quiet rubbing of the earlobes and neck, I felt my whole being stabilize within my skin. I felt light, open, authentic and free. 


This month, I am flowing with the theme of intuitive movement in my classes here at Union Fitness. Experience new ways of moving in vinyasa 6-7 AM Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, or discover dynamic stillness in yin 10:30-11:30 AM on Saturdays. I am so grateful for the lessons I received from Bobbie and Nami, and can’t wait to share them with you!




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