"I can't balance."
"My knees don't bend that far."
"I'm too old to climb."
I hear these and many other statements from students and clients and even the occasional passerby who sees me walking along a fallen log or squatting down to get something. I understand the feeling. A couple years ago, I started to clean the gutters and I felt unsteady climbing the ladder. I though, "I'm too old for this." But then I realized, it wasn't age that made me unsteady on the ladder. It was the fact that I hadn't been regularly climbing anything for many, many years.
When my students tell me they don't balance well, I usually respond by asking how often they balance every day. The answer is usually "not at all." Why do we think we'll be good at something we don't do?
Trying to relearn an old trick takes time. Little kids challenge their balance all the time if allowed to play. They walk on the curb or low walls. They play games demanding hopping or freezing in funny positions. They simply opt to try and stand on one foot. When is the last time you did that?
Same with squatting down. If you have a limited relationship with the ground and choose to sit only on chairs and sofas, your hips, knees, and ankles have lost mobility and strength. Regaining ability in all those joints means starting very gradually with work designed to move your body a little bit more in the direction of squatting. It doesn't mean force yourself down into a squat today.
After that experience on the ladder a few years back, I made a point to climb up onto chairs and stepladders more often. I gradually became accustomed to how my body moved and how I balanced. And I can tell you that climbing a ladder no longer makes me feel old. I got better at it.
Whatever you do a lot of is what you get comfortable doing. If you want to move differently, you'll have to start moving differently. Give yourself time. It may seem as though balance or climbing or squatting come easily to young bodies, therefore you have to be young to do that. In reality, it comes easily to bodies that balance, climb, and squat regularly.
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Deep, and not so deep, thoughts on bodies, movement, yoga, art, shoes, parenting, dogs. You know, life.