More Than One Right Way to Move
It's a strange time in world politics, and oddly, some dogmatic sentiments travel out of the political realm and into other fields. One place where I see a similar approach is in the field of movement, which I use as a large term to describe exercise-y things like crossfit, kettlebells, yoga, pilates, etc., as well as more other practices like Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais, bodywork, and massage techniques. Essentially, a representative from these disciplines will claim that their approach is the best way, and that all other ways are null. Let me give some examples, in case this is isn't the clearest of analogies. I've received many different promotional emails this weekend (with Christmas shopping and all), including one that mentioned how this one approach to movement would solve pain and all movement dysfunction, that could never be improved be foam rolling, Feldenkrais, yoga, etc. I've followed this person's work before, and it's certainly interesting and valuable, but I would hesitate to say that it will single handedly solve all problems of movement and pain. Another example is that within the pilates teaching community, there is a bit of a rift between the different schools of teaching- there are "classical" teachers, and "contemporary" teachers, and honestly, a lot of people that are probably in the middle who see value to both. The "classical" teachers will sometimes claim that the "contemporary" style teachers aren't teaching pilates, and that it's inauthentic, whereas the "contemporary" teachers admit to using pilates principles and creating new movements. Which tribe is practicing pilates, and which approach is better? Both are valid, and It depends on the student and the teacher.
What I'm trying to say is that there is no "one right way" to move. It first of all, depends on the practitioner and what they need, and second of all depends on the teacher of the method. I've met some excellent yoga teachers and some terrible yoga teachers- it doesn't necessarily mean the specific school of yoga is good or bad. The same is true for massage therapists, personal trainers, etc, -there are many methods of working with the body, and most of them have value, (there are certainly some gimmicks with false science out there) but also heavily depend on the teacher, student and practitioner. As movement teachers, I wonder why more people aren't drawn to try new methods, classes, etc., even if they eventually decide it's not for them. Rather than condemning other teachings, why not try things out first and learn something from them? I certainly have my preferences for my own movement practices, but I've seen the value that different methods and techniques have had for other people, even if they didn't offer me the same benefit. (ex. I have complex feelings about Bikram yoga, but I know it's the entry point for a lot of people into yoga or into exercise, and it doesn't put a lot of stress on the wrists, which can be great for musicians.)
The same can be said of music educators or those claiming that their one approach to practicing, teaching, preparation, instrument setup, etc., is the best and only way. By all means, learn what you can from him or her, but remember, there are many ways to approach practice, and not all ways will work for you. I had a teacher that I studied with for less than a year who told me her way was the only way to succeed, and needless to say, I didn't stick around once she was unable to address the physical pain I was having from viola. (I was told my shoulder and neck pain was normal). Be open, try new things, and if it doesn't work for you, that's ok too. Give the teachings an opportunity to resonate, look for value, but be willing to try other approaches. Just as there is an incredible diversity of bodies in the world, there are many "right" ways to complete any bodily task.