By: Carrie Walters
Falling for Bodhi
One day I was glancing up at the studio TV and a particular YouTube video caught my eye. Imagine seeing an elegant configuration of ceiling anchors, ropes, handles and foot loops that provide 4 independent points of suspension. Now imagine seeing someone utilize this suspension system to move his or her body through a series of movements that lift against the downward pull of gravity—integrated, functional, fluid movements that focus on balance, strength and flexibility while incorporating Pilates Principles. The students in the video moved with such fluidity and grace; it was absolutely beautiful! Without thinking, I looked at Vicki and said, “that looks awesome, I would love to teach that!” Next thing I knew, I was heading to Tampa for a teacher certification workshop… but more on that in a moment, first we should discuss what Bodhi is.
Intro to Bodhi
The word Bodhi is derived from a Sanskrit word meaning “to awaken”. The Bodhi Suspension System “awakens” the body by stimulating many of the body’s deep support systems simultaneously. Using 1, 2, 3, or 4 suspension points challenges the body to work with gravity in new and unusual ways. Taking the body out of alignment with gravity fires the core stability muscles and develops integrated, whole-body strength, greater control, and dynamic flexibility.
Creation of Bodhi
After a devastating car accident left Khita Whyatt with a traumatic brain injury, she began designing a suspension system that would be most beneficial to her recovery. She knew she needed to re-engage the non-responsive deep muscles without being able to consciously feel or contract them since her paralysis left her unable to voluntarily move her left side. Using ropes to move in and out of alignment with gravity, Khita was able to stimulate her deepest muscle to contract involuntarily and “hug the bones” to provide joint stability. Her rehabilitation mantra of 10,000 repetitions paired with Bodhi led to a successful recovery. Though she still feels remnants of the accident, the casual observer would never know she had any physical limitations.
Physical activity in itself is exhausting; now imagine 16 hours of physical activity over the course of 2 days PLUS mentally learning new information… It was certainly a challenging and tiresome weekend but I LOVED it! Our weekend began with the history of Bodhi; its creation, Balanced Body’s role, the equipment, set-up, etc., moved through the Bodhi exercises, and ended with a 4-point suspension challenge. The creation of Bodhi was such an inspirational story and I was drawn to how the system awakened the mental and physical sides of strength, health, and well-being. Now my first experience touching the ropes was a little nerve-racking; but mostly exciting. I had played with suspension training before, but this was a whole new concept. With all of my dance experience, Pilates certifications and personal fitness level I thought I could rock this new skillset. Wow, was I humbled. The very first exercise caused every muscle to fire and I had a sense of stability like I had never experienced before.
Let me take a moment to address something. I know folks will have a very real fear of falling, but I can assure you that it isn’t possible. Our bodies have this wonderful ability to trigger reflexes that activate our stabilizer muscles. Look up the “righting” reflex/response. It is quite difficult for me to explain… you will just have to feel it.
As we moved progressively through the exercises, each one provided a new challenge and an awareness of my muscular imbalances. Learning about my physical strengths and weaknesses was not something I expected during the Bodhi workshop, but it was certainly a welcomed surprise. Additionally, I loved how the Pilates principles of precision and movement were brought to suspension training. The second day of training my body was certainly feeling something. The feeling wasn’t any achy soreness like I experience with my weight training, or even a strong lengthened feeling from a Pilates session… it was more of a strong, supported feeling around my entire spinal column. I felt lifted, stronger, and more supported with just a hint of muscle soreness around my entire core. We wrapped up the workshop with 4-point suspension work. Sure it is awesome to save the best for last, but my exhausted body didn’t agree. Nevertheless, I gave it my best and challenged my
self. I tried Superhero, Chest Press, Chest Fly, and a few other exercises. Think your muscles “shake” in Pilates? Try full-body suspension in Bodhi! Stepping out of the loops I had an overwhelming sense of empowerment and it boosted my confidence level 100%.
When I first mentioned my interest in Bodhi, I had no idea what an amazing tool it was. Now I can honestly say that I am a believer in the Bodhi Suspension System and the benefits it can bring. I look forward to teaching and helping others awaken their bodies. Look for Bodhi coming this fall to Body Balance Institute in Jacksonville, FL!