Shhh! Body Tuning in Progress

Jason Alan Griffin, teacher of Nia, Yoga Tune Up®, Strength and Toning, actor and model shares his early views of his apprenticeship with me. His observations have been condensed here for your interest.  For more information from Jason, see:

“I have been a fitness professional for 20 years. I work with people who are exercising and want to improve their bodies. And in this process, I’m often stunned by how little conversation there is going on. At no time is there much inquiry on the part of the client; and if there is, it is usually an inquiry of me, not of their own body. Most people want to be told what to do and then they may or may not do it. But if they took the time to listen to their own body and then responded to what the body was saying, they wouldn’t need to ask me anything; they’d already know the answers. Or at least they’d know where to find the answers.

A simple thing like gentle, flowing movements of all the joints is something that your body will likely ask for every morning. Are you listening? That creak. That staggered movement. The stiffness. That is the language of your body. This is the language a Body Tuner speaks. By being alert to the sounds and sensation of your body, a Body Tuner hears your body’s request loud and clear.

Today, as I was watching Shmuel work, I was struck by how often people are wrapped up in their stories. They love to describe everything that was or currently is going on in their bodies and to relate a total history, complete with the opinions and ‘diagnoses’ of other professionals. Shmuel asks the clients to stop talking. “I only want to know what’s going on right now,” he says. He asks, “What are you feeling right now?”

The work of Body Tuning has no use for all the information clients want to give.  It serves as nothing but a distraction. “Please listen to the guitar,” Shmuel will say, referring to the peaceful classical music playing in the office. When the client is finally quiet and relaxed, Shmuel can better ‘hear’ the body. The body will ask for what it needs, and it will clearly and precisely describe what is wrong. A Body Tuner listens by touching and moving the body. It is an intimate relationship between body and hands.

The techinique of Body Tuning seems to be one that would be very hard to teach, and I admire Shmuel for endeavoring to teach me.  The work itself is powerful in its simplicity. As I watch, I sometimes think, ‘that’s yoga. If this person had been doing yoga, then they might not be here in this office.” But then there are other times when he uses reflexology, or deep, constant pressure or traction.

Today, as he was working on a famous dancer, Shmuel was mobilizing his hip and as he worked, I could hear him repeating “relax, relax, relax, relax.” At first, I assumed Shmuel was speaking to the person, but the dancer was lying on the table and seemed utterly relaxed. His right hip, however, was telling a different truth. I finally suspected that Shmuel’s mantra was directed to the body, rather than the mind. “Relax, relax, relax” was what he wanted the muscles of the hip to do.

When I first started to watch Shmuel work, my big question was “how do you know what to do?” But after only two days, having observed his work on about ten clients, I think I know how he knows what to do. He asks the body, and the body answers.

And isn’t that how it should be? If he sat me down and told me, “First, you pull this, then touch that, making sure you always turn this that way first,” I’d glaze over from the dullness. But Body Tuning is exciting in that it is alive. It’s fresh. There is no pattern, no system. It’s a communication and allows the body to do its best. We all have the capacity to self-heal, and Body Tuning sets that capacity free.

Today I was given the opportunity to assist manually. I was stabilizing the lower leg of a client while Shmuel was pulling the thigh. At first, I didn’t feel anything happening, but after a minute or so, I started to feel the tissue of the leg shift and change. I could swear I felt it moving around, adjusting, making itself more aligned. And then I heard (or did I feel?) a few, very tiny popping sounds. Intuitively, I knew that felt good. Moments later, the client said, “that feels good to turn my hip that direction.”

How did Shmuel know? The client didn’t tell him. The client never would have known that’s what he needed. But this client was lying quietly and letting his body tell us what it wanted.

If you made a lifetime practice of listening to your own body, you’d be in great shape. But if you, like many people, have some pain in your body that doesn’t seem to be going away, that’s your body saying, “This is wrong! Do something different.” My recommendation would be to try Body Tuning. And perhaps I’ll see you in the studio so I can learn more from you and your body as it is tuned up.”