I just finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s newest book, Big Magic. In the book, she offers advice for the perfectionist that “done is better than good.” Now, in the world of creative living without fear, done is precisely what one needs. Perfection when you are attempting to create is a roadblock and can prevent you from doing big things. BUT, in the world of human movement, perfection is a requirement to keep your body safe.
When you are doing something with your body, whether it is yoga, Pilates, CrossFit, running – done is not better than perfect. Perfect, in my opinion, is the only thing you should be striving for. Perfection in every repetition, stroke and movement to ensure that balance is being created throughout your body. We have enough imbalances brought on by technology and our daily life that hammering them into your bodies even more with your movement practice is far less helpful than beneficial.
Have you ever had a cut on your right hand that kept you from using your hand? How many times did you have to switch hands and do something with your left hand that day? Or few days? Or week? Chances are that you default to using your dominant hand every day without a second thought, which means that without even trying, one side of your body is already stronger and more dexterous from extensive practice for many of your daily movements.
In my classes, I am watching the room like a hawk to point out what my students cannot feel. We don’t have mirrors to help better see ourselves, so a watchful eye is required to ensure that everyone is in the most optimal position at all times. Even with mirrors, it is my responsibility as the teacher to say something if I see that anyone is out of wack. At every moment, your nervous system is mapping the positions of the class – looking for an old normal or mapping a “new” normal. If I don’t say something about the off kilter positions I see, your brain may map that wonky shape as normal and it can become a postural habit that you have to undo. Changing a habit is a lot harder than never developing it in the first place. Annoyed that I call out your feet turned out? Think of the relief on your external hip rotators when they no longer are locked short and your piriformis can finally relax.
This all became very clear to me after a recent workout that was led by a “coach”. I use the word lightly here because to me, a coach/teacher/leader is someone who is constantly watching every move you make to HELP you feel and sense what you cannot see or feel. A coach does more than cheering everyone on. It wasn’t until the end of the workout that this individual asked me if I knew that I was lopsided. That every single rep of the workout had been off kilter the entire time. No, I didn’t know that and I would have loved to have been told that when I could have made adjustments to remedy it, instead of continuing to bash the same crap pattern into my body FOR ANOTHER 15 MINUTES.
I was livid and you should be too if your “teacher” does nothing but to spit out cues in the front of the room or cheer you on. Because your body matters, your health matters, and your safety matters, and if you’re standing at the front of the room in a position of power and are not comfortable saying something about what you’re seeing, MOVE.
Strive to be a perfectionist with your movement because one expertly executed push up or downward facing dog is a million times better than 100 crappy ones. This is not to say that you shouldn’t also let go and be super goofy and carefree with your movement at times, but that a majority of it should be well performed. How you do your body most, your body does and I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the asymmetrical tension patterns and pain that comes from being lopsided.
- December 5: Mobility for Performance: Bulletproof Shoulders (CrossFit SolCity, Hollywood CA)
- January 23-24: The Roll Model® Method Weekend (Evolve Yoga, Anchorage AK)
- February 5-7: YTU Integrated Embodied Anatomy Training (Black Dog Yoga, Sherman Oaks, CA)
- March 12: The Roll Model® Method: The Science of Rolling (CrossFit SolCity, Hollywood CA)
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Aargh! This post gives me all the feels. I felt your frustration with the “coach” who didn’t give you an adjustment and I felt for the person in a class who, being a perfectionists and maybe not understanding what their pose or posture should look like, doesn’t get what a helpful adjustment means. For me, I’ve struggled with explaining to “coaches” that less but perfect is what I seek. I want the perfect squat. The perfect plank. The perfect down dog…for ME and MY body. If that means it looks different or I do less of them or adjust, use props, whatever, I don’t care. I know that what’s going on inside and my form are all that count. Thanks for another e collect post.