Flow day. Thursday, October 10th. I enter the Legacy Gym with the same mantra that was instilled in me by Professor Alberto Crane and inspired my first TacFit™ post, “Just Show Up“. That phrase was promptly reiterated by TacFit™ Instructor, Robert Miller, “Even if you can’t do many of the movements” he looked at me with empathy, “Just keep showing up. I do – keep showing up that is. There are days where my participation is automatic and I am lured to the gym as if I were a ton of metal being pulled by a magnet, and other days where I take a deep breath, mumble out loud, I don’t want to go today. And then the, “Just Show Up” gods materialize in their etheric body. Instantly the phrase incarnates within and I am compelled to make way to the gym. I double-check the day of the week, Thursday, recovery day – class starts at 9. My mind automatically aligns the word recovery with rest. And while I may not be thrusting clubbells and attempting (or rather failing) to suspend myself with a pair of rings, there is a series of movements – a six-degree flow – that works like the universe – in your favor when you surrender to the flow of the movement.
Class commences as usual, on time. Whether there is one student or fifty participants, we begin. “What do you say, Michelle?” Robert calls upon me enthusiastically, “Shall we warm up?” I smile apprehensively as if he asked me if I was ready to run a marathon. I attempt to align myself with Robert’s energy, and while nodding sort of whisper, “Yes.” My murmur is equivalent to an athlete’s roar, “Yeaaahhh!”
“Let’s begin moving our jaw side-to-side,” Robert demonstrates. Immediately I sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies after pouring milk (no I don’t eat Rice Krispies or drink milk anymore). Slowly, gently we move our neck, shoulders, wrists, we do some weird twist that I’ve never done before, but it feels good. We then do the ok sign – that is, we windmill our fingers back and forth. I realize I’ve never stretched my fingers. With my arms extended, I look at Robert from the corner of my eye to make sure I’m moving my fingers properly. Do I not know how to move my own fingers? Really – I need a guide? I ignore my thoughts and keep focussing on executing the ok sign. And then, my hands look like they’re dancing the waltz. They spin and dip, circle back and forth, caressing the air and I’m smiling – inward that is.
By the end of warm-ups, more students have arrived. The circle has expanded, and I spot Professor Alberto standing next to me. He smiles and gives me a fist pump. He’s glad I showed up – he’s pleased we all showed up. No words are exchanged, you can see it in his eyes. Once he steps on the mat, the energy level in the room is raised. Everyone is ready to do our best.
Six Degree Flow
Robert teaches us the flow of the day. I sit off to the side trying to take it all in. Neck down, bend, touch the floor, bend the knees slightly, extend. bend slightly…o.k. I got that part. The lesson has moved on when I tune back in, “Then you’re going to push both legs back into a plank.” Robert thrusts his legs back, brings his right foot forward next to one hand, lifts the left leg, twist back, then continues to contort his body with ease and flow.
By the end of the demonstration, my eyes are widened and I take a deep breath. A student asks if we can do a run-through together. While most are on the fifth-degree position, I’m still mastering touching the floor without bending my knees. I wonder, how can I possibly thrust both feet back. The internal dialogue is interrupted and Robert is providing different levels of intensity, “Once your hands are on the ground, just push one leg back, and then the other into your plank.” I’m relieved. I can do that.
The clock is set, the music plays, and the count-down begins, “It’s just 20 minutes. Take your time. Remember to breathe.” Like toddlers on a pre-school mat, we each begin to bend and stretch, lift and role, balance and what’s that last part? OH! breathe! That’s right, breathe.
That Breathing Thing
At one point, I feel myself unraveling. I forget my next move like a dancer who draws a blank in the middle of their choreography. Robert further simplifies the movement for me. When I finally make it to my feet, I’m lightheaded and breathing heavy. I rest my head against the padded wall and close my eyes. When I resurface, I look up and am greeted by the gaze of the portraits of Judo/Jiu-Jitsu legends Jigoro Kano and Mitsuyo Maeda. I evoke their assistance. My supplication is instantly answered – Robert is standing behind me. “You o.k?” I nod. “Breathe…shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” he exhales. He inhales deeply through his nose while his eyes encourage me to join in synchronicity. I follow. “That’s it. Slowly. Remember that breathing thing?” I keep breathing, recover quickly and start again.
“Flow state, that mysterious mental zone where time and the outside world seem to disappear, is one of the keys to peak performance.” Scott B. Sonnen, TACFIT Founder
As with every class, somewhere in between a twist, a stretch or a plank, my tears flow. I quit trying to suppress them. My body recognizes this flow is good for us. I feel safe and inherently know, we are being set free. My mind settles and I enter a flow state. My eyes now closed, I focus only on my movement. The world is shut out and we become an orchestra of instruments, each movement shifting our bodies and vibration to match the tuning fork of our holistic beings.