Yesterday I started a class with the words, “My plan for today is to learn the midline”. I always loved this phrase, “To learn the midline.” To me it sounds perfectly odd, but at the same time kind of makes sense.
It’s for the student to become aware of the midline of the body—which probably isn’t the same as the symmetrical middle, mathematically speaking. It’s for the student to improve
- proprioception, for example, “Where is your left shoulder blade in relation to the spine, compared to your right shoulder blade? And where do you sense the extreme of the kyphosis of your thoracic spine?”, and
- the sense for inner tensions aka biotensegrity, and
- gravitational pull, and
at the same time improve the alignment and position of the midline… whatever that is— the thing to be learned.
If it works out then learning the midline improves posture, the carriage of the head, ease of movement and elegance. It’s wonderful, a small miracle in itself. In my opinion. So I claim.
For the choice of movement sequence… I guess any works just as well as any other. The teaching goal here is learning the midline, and not the movements themselves. These movements are like auxiliary materials…
In factories the use of auxiliary materials are crucial to the manufacturing process but are either removed, consumed, or serve as supportive elements without becoming part of the final product; such as lubricants and oils, cleaning and solvent agents, packaging materials, etc.
In other words- whatever movements fit the class setup… my class was in sitting, therefore I used head and shoulder movements in combination with breathing. A twist of the chest, a glance to the ceiling.
The reason why I’m writing this: This morning I saw an ad on Instagram for a course to learn a movement commonly found in Capoeira, “The Macaco”. An athletic movement resembling a back handspring. You basically go from squatting through a handstand to standing on both feet. I thought the course is very well done and the teaching profound, empathic and passionate… but at the same time I was thinking: “Teacher Aaron could have used the Macaco to teach the midline.”
I think teacher Aaron is one of the pioneers in softacrobatics (as he calls it) who blurs the line between having a) the athletic performance and b) a transcendent experience as the ultimate endpoint. Transcendent in the sense of learning something useful about ourselves, that can transcend into daily life and ultimately improve everything we do… from standing to walking to how we see the world, and everyone else.
I, for myself, I have a clear standpoint on the transcendent endpoint (if any.) I am certain that learning the midline is more valuable to more people than learning the Macaco. But I guess seeing someone doing a Macaco (or advertise to learn it) is more appealing than a blog post titled “Learning the midline.” That’s something for me to ponder.