When Bill E. came to me four years ago to learn the Gyrotonic method, he was looking for something to augment his Pilates and weight training. Specifically, he wanted more freedom of movement to improve his skiing and golf. He is a determined man. You see it in his gait, the way he holds himself. He is not a quitter. He’s a goal-setter. Here’s the thing about Gyrotonic movement: it is as much about effort as it is about surrender.
Gyrotonic practice quickly shows us that brute determination can work against us in our quest for improvement. “Trying hard” is often marked by holding one’s breath. This was one of Bill’s biggest challenges. “I still find that I hold my breath when I’m trying to figure out a movement,” he says. “There is a learning curve. It’s hard to remember patterns. I have to be reminded a lot. But the more I become comfortable with the movements, the breathing gets easier.”
Breath creates movement. In the four years that Bill has practiced the Gyrotonic method, he has learned to trust his breath — even when he doesn’t have the choreography “perfectly” memorized. That trust translates to greater fluidity of movement, which in turn helps him learn the movement pattern, because he is more relaxed. The symbiosis of breath and movement comes through practice.
Many experience Gyrotonic study as a process of letting go, softening our grip, both muscularly and mentally, to find something deeper. In Gyrotonic practice, ‘trying hard’ becomes ‘trying soft.’ As Bill’s breath and movement become more integrated, his movements have become more fluid. And this has a direct and measurable benefit in Bill’s life.
“By breathing with movement, the fluidity of my skiing when I race has improved,” he says. “My body is more supple, not herky jerky, which is really important when you’re skiing or golfing.”
At 68, Bill sees no end to his potential for improvement. “In my age group, I did my best ever in racing this year. My new goal is to go up a level in racing next year. I’m very close now. Gyrotonic helps me be able to do things within my limitations with greater ease.”
Through the Gyrotonic method, Bill found something he didn’t expect: Sometimes breathing through what we don’t know yet is the most efficient path to mastery. Bill has learned that you can’t get down the ski hill in one breath; and that by breathing through the gates on the hill, he is most likely attain the next ski level when winter rolls around again.