I just left Bellingham, Washington which is a very small town where people are almost unnecessarily friendly(compared to what I'm used to.) I went to Bellingham to take the "Into the Stretch" workshop with Kit Laughlin.
First I want to talk a little bit about Kit, then share some thoughts on workshops in general.
I met Kit at a Gymnastic Bodies seminar in Arizona a couple years ago, where he attended the seminar as well as taught a flexibility module as part of it. I was interested in his work because of how genuine he was when he talked about it. Anytime someone sounds like a salesman or businessman it is a massive turn-off for me. Kit comes across as someone who legitimately enjoys what he does. The other reason why I recommend Kit's work so highly is that he doesn't regard it as complete. I have worked with many teachers, and many of them think they know something. Once they release a body of work, that's it. The fact is that your work, whatever it may be, should be an organic being capable of changing and evolving as new information becomes present.
Since our first meeting, I attended a six day workshop with Kit in Charlottesville, VA and he hosted me for a handstand workshop in his home of Canberra, the Australian capital.
Superficially, Kit appears to be a teacher of flexibility and movement. The true nature of his work(and mine as well) goes way deeper than that. Our bodies are the only true home we ever live in, and for the majority of the population it goes largely unexplored. It's surprising how much of a disconnect people have with their own bodies.
In fact, an analogy I use for people's treatment of their own bodies is similar to that of a rental car. It gets you from one place to another for the amount of time you have it, but ultimately you are not responsible for it. I prefer to think of my body as the ship I am captain of. If something goes wrong, it is my own responsibility.
Well flexibility among other things, is an excellent tool for developing a deep awareness of yourself, as well as the mind-body connection.
Here are a few concepts I learned or was reminded of while taking Kit's workshop:
-It's not the muscle being stretched. Muscle behaves like any elastic material, when it is lengthened it goes back to its resting position in a shorter time than it took to elongate. Limits to flexibility originate in the brain. People who are anesthetized are completely flexible and can be put into any position. As soon as they regain consciousness they revert back to their original state.
-"Your body is smarter than you are". This a concept I work with in my teachings as well. We are all a series of compensations created by our weaknesses and shortcomings. Your body is an expert at making compensations to avoid movements that cause any stress to the system. It is also an expert at resisting change; if left to its own devices it will run purely on habit. However, to grow as individuals we must be able to get past the discomfort or making change in ourselves.
-Lowest energy state. So many of us hold unnecessary tension within our bodies, and it happens for a number of reasons. By default, we should be completely soft and relaxed until action is required. Control of tension and relaxation is a massively important concept for athletics, movement, and life in general.
I definitely learned a lot more at Kit's event my second time around, which brings me to my next point today.
Why attend a workshop or seminar in the first place? Here are some of the less obvious reasons:
-To get a different perspective on something you already know. There are a lot of teachers who teach the same thing, but all of them have a different viewpoint. Learning different perspectives can only benefit you more as a student or teacher. Just remember to keep an open mind.
-As my friend Samantha Star mentioned to me, going to a workshop can be a great way to validate what you already do. Seeing someone else use the same methods as you is a good way to legitimize your system.
-Repeating the same workshop can really help you understand the subject matter. You can focus much more on the subtleties once you know what the foundation will be. Both Kit and myself give discounts for repeating a workshop(I plan on making mine more substantial once the business is a bit more situated). Maybe there is that one piece of advice that you just weren't ready for the first time around, and all of a sudden it clicks. Either way, it's impossible to learn all the ins and outs of a system from going to just one workshop.
-Meeting a community of like minded people can have quite an invigorating effect.
As a student, you should aim to get at least one concept you can take away from any workshop or class you take. If you learn even one thing, consider it a success.
To learn more about Kit's work, check out www.kitlaughlin.com for more information.