Muscle Memory

I've only recently heard of the concept of muscle memory. Per Wikipedia: Muscle memory, also called neuromuscular facilitation, is the neuromuscular system's memorization of motor skills. I first heard about it in yoga class from Jenny-the-Yoga-Lifeguard, then on an episode of Castle (great show by the way).

Since the TV show example is more interesting, I'll start there....Becket and Castle are working to solve a murder where the main witness has amnesia. Castle hands the man a pen and asks him to sign something--which he does without thinking. The body retains muscle memory. (Unfortunately the signature was like most and they could only get the first letter which made for another 30 minutes of television drama.)

In yoga, the idea is that you can teach your body to expand its range of motion by holding a pose for an extended period of time. Not about exercise and building muscle, but about actually teaching your body what it can do.  How to balance.  How to relax.  What is interesting to me is how the idea of "muscle memory" works beyond the physiological to the psychological.

For example, I spend at least 60 hours a week sitting in a chair.  (Most of this is done at a computer.  Some in front of a TV and the rest driving a car.)  That's a lot of muscle memory for sitting.  When I was a kid, I spent most of my time playing.  Laughing.  Riding a bike. Turning cartwheels.  It was a never-ending experimentation of what my body could do--a whole different physical paradigm.

Yesterday morning at yoga class (led by Victoria-the-Dancer), we played.  We danced, bounced, stretched and were silly with huge colorful balls.  It was fun. 

This morning I woke up sore (from using muscles not typically engaged in sitting) but what is more profound is that I feel younger on a holistic level.  Lighter, as if I don't have a bunch of adult things to solve--much more like a kid than a marketing diva. Is that because my muscles were reminded what it was like to be five again?  

What if our bodies get old because we stop moving? Stop playing?

I think this principle probably works on a mental level too. But I'll have to explore that in another post. I'm done sitting for today!

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Maira Gall