It is pompously said, “When the student is ready, the teacher will come.”

Guh. Quit with your preaching, wizened old zen master! And then DANG if it didn’t happen to me TWICE in two hours.

The other day, Barbara (my trainer and personal guiding wizard at Body Dynamics in Falls Church, VA) was going over my “hep.” (That’s Home Exercise Program to you.) I was showing her that the marches I did each evening on the foam roller were getting better; I said “Last week, you said to concentrate on the glute muscle of the leg that was stable – that REALLY helps.”

Barbara gave me a slightly pained smile. “Good – but that’s not the first time I’ve pointed that out.”

“It’s not?”

“I’ve been saying it from the very beginning.”

“You’ve been telling me that for 17 months and I just heard you last week? You’re kidding.”

“Well, during those 17 months, you’ve learned how to engage your glutes. It’s been hard for you; last week was apparently the first time you could actually do it. So that’s when it made sense.”


It makes you wonder. What ELSE have I been hearing – possibly for years or decades – that I haven’t been ready to apply?? Is there also a sure-fire way to make sure my laundry not only gets done but folded AND put away? Or to defuse a grumpy coworker or client? Can I build up THOSE muscles, too??

Not one hour later I was in Chad’s stretch class. (Tuesdays are my double-class day at Body Dynamics; I come out of there feeling like Super Woman.) We were all flat on our backs with one leg straight in the air, holding a wide, soft strap across the sole of the foot to tug the leg gently toward the head, to stretch the back of the thighs.

Chad, who prowls like a tiger watching for un-relaxed shoulders and other correctable postures, lightly touched the big toe of my down leg. “Point that toe to the ceiling, now.”

(My feet fall to the sides; I am splay-footed.)

Feeling impetuous, I foolishly questioned my sensei. “Why?” I asked as he moved on to align the next student. “If my foot naturally turns out to the side, what does it matter to this hamstring stretch if the down foot is not awkwardly being held upright?”

His answer was like a mini epiphany – one I KNOW I’ve been told before, but I guess I wasn’t ready to hear it. “When your foot lays over like that, it’s very hard to turn on your glutes. Get in the habit of keeping your feet straight and you’ll have better access to your butt muscles.”

Holy moley – was he conspiring with Barbara in the hall between classes??!

(Yes, he was; Barbara ALWAYS tells Chad something fiendish that she wants the entire Stretch Class to endure just because my rhomboids are tight, whatever they are.)

For 17 months, I’ve been learning – so slowly – how to access a major muscle group that was sound asleep in me. Now, twice in two hours, I heard about why, and what to do about it. I was ready, and damned if the teachers didn’t appear.

There’s no use pretending I can repair and maintain my health alone. These wizard guides know SO much more than I do.

The photo, from the 1970s TV series “Kung Fu” (improbably starring Keith Carradine as an Asian named Kaine), is what you get if you type “Snatch this pebble from my hand, grasshopper” into Google images. (Get it? A teacher says – when you can snatch this pebble from my hand, you will be ready to leave your studies.) (Okay, so it’s a long stretch. It’s still a cool image!)

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