Updated: Jul 17, 2021
It's a question that gets tossed about frequently in movement circles. There are many brilliant answers to the question which can provoke insight, and perhaps even more questions.
What strength means to you is more important than any quote in a book or article. How does the word Strength feel in your body? How do you envision a strength practice?
For many women, myself very much included, Strength was something way 'out there' that felt neither attainable nor desirable- especially in my younger years. Sure, I wanted to be a fast runner as a kid, though I didn't equate that with strength. In my twenties when my focus was more dance centered I didn't give it much thought, only when I wished I could leap higher. Even in my early thirties, as my yoga practice grew, I was much more interested in cultivating greater flexibility.
Then, at some point, around the same time I understood I had a highly spirited toddler ( as folks liked to label my son), I began to shift my preconceived notions around what strength felt like to me.
I still couldn't give you a concise definition based on my personal relationship with strength. It sure is complex and forever transforming. Of course, it's not just about building muscle mass and lifting heavy shit. When I feel strong, I am also sensing how much effort is necessary and when it's time to soften. For many years, I only enjoyed participating in a strength practice with other people, it had to be social. Now, even though I still enjoy this communal aspect, I do make time to practice by myself and find it very gratifying.
My relationship with strength hasn't been a straight unbroken trajectory of consistent improvements. There have been injuries and stretches of time requiring me to sit back to reflect why I have certain goals and how it's jiving with other aspects of my life. Cultivating a practice which nurtures me is essential, and if it's not, it's time to morph!
I got to thinking about writing a blog post earlier today after a private session with a lovely woman who is interested in feeling stronger. I introduced the kettlebell and shortly into some swings the emotions began to rise to the surface. As her eyes began to well up, I needed no explanation as to why. There are many layers to shift through, though I feel at the heart of it all is this radiant force-our life force which we have managed to muffle through the years-for a myriad of reasons- none of which call for piling more shame or blame. It just is, though once awakened to our earthly vitality, our cells can not help but do a little happy, and perhaps verklempt, dance.
And so, if you, dear reader, have felt daunted by the idea of a strength practice, I invite you to investigate these feelings a bit longer, with a patient heart. Ask yourself, and maybe others, some challenging questions, (sprinkle in some fun queries too). What strength and a strength practice means to you is a unique personal journey that's meant for you to define and explore as only you have the power to do. Bon voyage!
* editing note- in case it's not clear , I do believe strength , and a strength practice is multi faceted and not exclusive to physical strength. What we practice will strengthen over time, so choose wisely.