Hi! I’m Deborah Redfern. I am a writer, self-healing advocate and soon-to-be practitioner of Restorative Exercise™. I believe in healing movement and to this end I offer an educational program, corrective exercise, and movement-to-music practice. I invite you to read my blog and check out my services.
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It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society
Have you ever wondered how your body (and your health) is different from that of your ancestors? Have you wondered about the ‘cost’ of our easier, more efficient, machine driven society?
Katy Bowman’s new book Move Your DNA: Restore your Health through Natural Movement spells it all out for you.
Let me tell you, it isn’t pretty, but neither is this a doom and gloom book. Katy tells it like it is, but also says that if you don’t like where you are, you can change it. And then shows you how, without shaming or bullying. Because the thing is we are all pretty much in the same boat whether you consider yourself a regular exerciser or a couch potato. How can that be?
In a section called Movement, Outsourced, Katy says:
Over the last ten thousand years, most humans transitioned from a migratory, hunter-gathering population to living in sedentary farming communities, then industrialized nations, and then our current technology-based culture. You and I dwell in a time when movement has been almost entirely outsourced. A moment on our phone can secure food, delivered right to the door. We can seek shelter on Craigslist from the comfort of our chairs. Heck we can even find a mate online these days, securing a partner without flexing anything but our fingers on a keyboard. While the abundance of food and money varies around the globe, for almost all populations, the current global environment has changed in at least one way, across the board: Moving is not required.
If you think about it even the most manual of labourers have machines for at least some parts of the work they are required to do. And the rest of us? We use labour-saving devices without thinking twice. I was putting together a table we bought at Ikea over the weekend and my husband offered me the electric screwdriver because “putting the screws in by hand is tedious.” I did it by hand (yay, me!) but if I had to do that motion all day (especially since my body isn’t conditioned for that kind of work) I definitely would have wanted/needed/whined loudly until I got that electric screwdriver.
Moving-not-required is a problem, Katy tells us, because total body health requires the same amount of movement that hunter-gatherer populations would have been getting. Exercising is certainly better than no movement at all, but even exercise doesn’t come close to creating the environment that our bodies need. She says,
It’s clear that there is a major mismatch between the loads we make in modern life (sleeping in our beds, driving our cars to work, sitting in front of our computers, and vigorously exercising for sixty minutes a day, then sitting in front of the TV, repeat, repeat, repeat) and the loads we would have made (searching for, gathering, and preparing our own food, walking for water and building materials, carrying our home and children in our arms, repeat, repeat, repeat) were we living more in nature.
Christiane Northrup said “Move Your DNA” is groundbreaking. It certainly is because it will challenge what you thought you knew about health, fitness and exercise. Yes, there are exercises in this book but this is not an exercise book. The exercises are to help undo our ‘sticky spots’ and prepare the ground for more natural movement.
I am not an unbiased reviewer: I’ve been doing Katy’s Restorative Exercise™ work for about a year and am in the last stages of becoming a Restorative Exercise Specialist. I’m obviously a huge fan now but when I started doing this work it was with my ‘exercise’ mind, which is to say compartmentalized: this series of moves will fix this problem and so on.
As I saw changes and improvements in my body, my attitude, or more correctly, my understanding, changed too and Move your DNA brought it all into the ‘big picture’ for me. It is hard to describe, but I find the work playful, and take it from one who knows: leading Nia dance classes is very playful! This is a different kind of play. It is like being given permission to be a kid again, or at least leave the serious, composed adult-world behind, even for a while.
This DNA moving person now has ‘permission’ to sit on the floor, makes a beeline for the kid’s playground to practice swinging and hanging (like my colleague Petra Fisher here), hangs off of the side of doorways whenever possible, walks on the grass instead of the path, and seeks out hills and uneven terrain instead of flat ground. In other words, turns out the 21st century version of moving your DNA is pretty cool, and once we get the ‘hang’ of it, might turn out to be the best of both worlds.
To order your copy of Move Your DNA, click here:
For more information on Restorative Exercise™ go here.
The alternative title of this blog post was going to be ‘what I did on my summer vacation’! Ha! Actually all summer has been about Restorative Exercise™, going through the webinars, which is largely how the Whole Body Alignment course is taught (over 50 hours of lecture and demonstration), reading, and of course doing corrective exercises, and for certification, it culminates in a six day intensive RE Live and in person experience, somewhere in the world, Mine just happened to be in Minnesota.
I’ve been trying to compare the RE week with other intensives I’ve taken. Let’s just say it was a very full experience. We jumped right into it without much more ceremony than introducing ourselves to one another, matching up faces and names. I think we students were already bonded by our collective nervousness about the testing on the last day!
I tried to keep notes and then around day 3, I gave up. Just as well, looking through my my notes I see gems like this: ” stretch: lengthen passive/active (needs a load)” and “hamstrings: moving extending hip in walking, no dorsi, no exten. no hamstrings.” Okay… I tell you it was almost moving too fast to take it in and write it down. Or my mind was too slow. Same thing.
But what I do remember were my personal light bulb moments.
1. What I thought was ‘ribs down’, wasn’t.
2. What I thought was TrA (transverse abdominal) activation, wasn’t.
3. When I thought I was externally rotating my femurs. I wasn’t.
4. My mobility awareness in my lumbar spine and thoracic spine is wonky. (That I already knew).
5. My mobility awareness in my thoracic spine and cervical spine is also wonky. (I didn’t know).
6. Since I hurt my hip, I’ve been afraid to move into my full range of motion. (I did, and nothing bad happened).
7. A lot of the strength I developed through yoga is still there but I’ve grown afraid to access it, like being able to hand stands. I used to do them all the time now I freeze up.
The main reason I am mentioning this is because almost everyone is going to have the same experience, I’m convinced. Almost all of us (even ‘fitness professionals’) start out not knowing what we are really doing with our bodies. That is why the approach of RE with alignment markers is so valuable: your bones are either aligned with one another, or they aren’t.
And part of growing old means that almost everyone has had an injury of some sort and they don’t to flare it up or put something else ‘out’. So we become cautious in our movements and begin to lose the ability to do the things we did when we were younger.
What my RE Live week also gave me was an appreciation of the variety in teaching methods. I thought that since RE was science based, each class would look much the same, but of the 7 instructors (Katy Bowman included) each approach was very different and it surprised me and definitely made the week more interesting.
I am now on the last leg of becoming a Restorative Exercise™ Specialist and personal trainer. My last task is to do ten hours of client practice and I am offering some free sessions via SKYPE. We can help each other! Contact me (soonish) if you would like to be in my practice trial. You’ll learn how and why to do things like this:
And it will start a movement revolution in your body, in a good way.
While I am away in Minnesota doing my Restorative Exercise™ course I set this up to publish while I am away. Warmth and sunshine prevails and while the grass is turning amber, there is plenty of colour. I went on one park-walk and at least a half a dozen city walks. The dragonfly was my most exciting shot because it is one of my totems. When I had my wooden kayak I painted a large dragonfly on the bow.
Speaking of new objects bought, Thoreau said something along the lines of ‘beware of any occasions which require new clothing’. Rubbish! Occasions are opportunities to get things right. I was coveting this merino wool yoga top from Icebreaker. I snapped it up when it went on sale. (If Icebreaker had an affiliate program I’d be rich.) Really, I wear my wood Icebreaker clothes year ’round. My summer tank tops are my winter undershirts.
So anyway, this Spirit Tank is one of a handful of tops I have with me this week at RES. I’ve tried lots of built-in bra work-out tops and have had to make alterations to every other one. This one works, no alternations needed and is it really lovely too.