Organic Stretching™ is an improvisational exercise form. You will never repeat the patterns you do from one session to the next. This creates the freedom to follow the lead of your body, to move as and where you need to rather than replicate the movements of a leader. It shares both the joys and challenges of other extemporaneous forms…music, theater, dance, and even just living your own creative life.
I used to call a friend of mine a “jazz cook.” He never used a recipe, but created by the seat of his pants…a little of this and a little of that. We usually first think of jazz or modern dance as examples of improvisation, but almost anything can be approached improvisationally. It is getting off the beaten track, throwing away the guide book, winging it, following your muse.
Aside from the freedom offered, what additional benefits can come from doing things in an improvisational way?
Stimulating intuition…improvisation is most often spontaneous, done without measuring and calculating the outcome and relies instead on the properties of the right brain/inner knowing to develop creative responses
Increased creativity…improvisation is usually built on a body of skills and knowledge that oversteps strictures on structure allowing flashes of pure creativity to use those tools in totally new ways
Empowerment and confidence building…with the permission inherent in improvisation to say “yes” and follow a totally new path we find we can
Developing playfulness and freedom from the inner critic
Expanding personal limits…with the absence of prescribed limits we establish new expanded zones of comfort
Meeting an inner guide…in the absence of an external model to follow, we can find our direction within, not a voice speaking to us, but more like being drawn toward something from deep inside
Improvisation also offers certain challenges to both teacher and student. These very challenges are often the source of the benefits, but it still requires a strong sense of commitment to stay with the practice until one breaks through to experience the freedom of moving to your own body’s rhythm and message. Among the possible challenges are:
More time and effort…first to gain the skills and then to learn “how to” use them without a strict format
Developing awareness and focus…improvisation requires effective observation to respond to opportunity
Taking personal responsibility…the results are totally in the hands of the improviser
Shifting control…most improvisation comes from an instinctual response more body centered than mind, by-passing thought centered reactions
Developing personal criteria…with no established strict format, composition, or script the improviser also creates the measurements for progress
Recognizing opportunities…learning to see/hear/feel the opening to respond and participate
The time and commitment required to prepare for improvisation is well worth the effort. Any artist, performer, or free-expression participant will agree that “you are never more alive” than in the improvisational mode with every nerve twitching for an opening to respond.
Photo credit: TenaciousR