Wiry and lithe, Marcelle walked through my studio doors about 18 months ago. She will be 68 years old next month, but it was her youthful and curious spirit that filled the studio. A practitioner of yoga for many years, she was in touch with body already, but Gyrotonic practice brought her to a level of self-awareness that perhaps nothing else ever had.
“I immediately fell in love with the flowing movements — moving from the spine in all directions. I loved the spirals,” she said. “The breathing patterns and equipment enabled me to stretch where I didn’t think I could go.”
Marcelle’s energy waxed and waned, as she felt her cancer returning. The doctors had told it was likely to return after her surgery a few years ago. A scan confirmed it. A few months into our sessions, she was diagnosed with metastasis. She had long ago known that when her cancer returned, she would not treat it as the treatment in her case would cause more harm than benefit. She was undaunted, buying another package of 10 sessions and maintained absolute consistency with her practice.
“Gyrotonic became my life line, gentle yet powerful, allowing me to live life full out,” she said.
I tailored Marcelle’s sessions to match her energy and pain levels. There were days when she was exhausted. But the Gyrotonic method honors people where they are each day, each hour. No one is the same as they were or will be. As a teacher, I have learned to be flexible, switching plans to work with where the client is at that moment. The system itself is non-judgmental; it does not impose an external “shape” for the client to conform to. Instead, Gyrotonic exercise helps people find internal connection, helping them move from the inside out. As time passed, Marcelle’s body asked her to surrender more and more. Recently, we reduced her sessions to a half hour, twice a week.
I have been the fortunate witness of Marcelle’s graceful, honest way of coping with the reality that the end of her life is closer than she’d wanted. Our sessions are filled with laughter, rest and sometimes tears, as Marcelle moves with the reality of her illness. All the while, I move with her and do my best to keep her moving in the gentle, powerful ways of the Gyrotonic method.