The Beginning of Subtle Strength Development - Kathryn Bruni-Young
  • October 12, 2016
  • Kathryn

The past five years have been transformational, if I look back I would have never guessed that by this time I would be launching my own programs with such a strong sense of myself. Strength in the body comes in many shapes and sizes, many abilities and capabilities. The thing I care the most about right now is helping people feel strong in their ever changing bodies, being able to feel the ground and their connection to it through their body.

Five years ago I began studying strength in an attempt to heal my over stretched and much too mobile body. This past year I have began studying Somatic Experiencing, which is a method of healing trauma and re-regulating the nervous system for better health over all. In my opinion there is such a huge connection between these two things, healing and feeling strength in the body while becoming more regulated and able to stay present to different levels of intensity.

When I began lifting weights it was about going as heavy as possible, putting in the work and measuring success by the weights on the bar and intensity of my workouts. I believe when we push the body through heightened levels of intensity different people will react in different ways. Through my study of the nervous system I’m more and more interested in understanding different types of students and what might be most helpful for every individual. This is where subtle strength development begins.

Studying the nervous system brings up the idea of dissociation, something that I know a thing or two about from my personal life. My question is when we push the body into vast levels of intensity, to the place where we try to think about something else just to get through the class, do we also push the body into more dissociation. And if this rings true for you, is it possible that a high level of intensity can sometimes be counterproductive.

In weight lifting everything revolves around training waves and percentages of your current max. In yoga this is not spoken of, unless your teacher is secretly deadlifting on the side, which these days they just might be! The idea in contemporary asana practice is usually to keep trying something until you can do it, keep doing your chatturanga and one day it will be better. I’ve met students who claim they have been working on this pose for upwards of five years and it still isn’t right! What if we found a way to deload the movement, work closer to 50% of the max rather than practicing at 100% and failing repeatedly. In this model you could practice a stronger chatturanga for five or six reps and even repeat that for a few sets with a nice rest in between. This same rule could be applied to any pose or movement within the practice.What I see when I work with people is a large boost in strength, confidence and awareness of what might be happening in their body mid movement, students reclaim control of their bodies, regardless of age or level.

My goal is to continue working with yogis and athletes to continue to bridge the gap and to create a space that is safe and inviting for as many people as possible. I believe if you find the sweet spot in your practice and strength training you don’t have to push into pain or back away from challenging poses because you simply don’t have the power.


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