Book Review by Leigh Blashki - Certified iRest Teacher
The Original Body – Primal Movement for Yoga Teachers - Author : John Stirk
For those who enjoy the practice (or teaching) of iRest® Body Sensing, John Stirk’s Original Body can be an informative and supportive text.
As a long-standing yoga teacher and osteopath, Stirk has spent decades exploring primal aspects of the human body-mind and this text is a synthesis of many of his personal inquiries and experiences with students and clients.
The Original Body posits that “there are ‘ancient’ ways of moving that underpin all other movements and postures and that these primal patterns can be tapped into as a spontaneous ‘now’ experience, not guided by previous personal experience or conditioning.” The ‘now’ experience is a meeting of sensations and feelings that cannot be held, captured or taught. The movement of the original body is the practice, practitioner and teacher.
Stirk suggests that inquiry and organic expression cross each other as part of the unfolding movement of living. “When we are simple, free from techniques and ideas, the innocence of the body arises and draws us into a way of moving that is un-held, powerful and transformative.”
Throughout the book there are sections where one could be excused for thinking that the author was in fact coming from the Kashmir Non-Dual tradition, describing Body Sensing. For example: “Let go of previous experience, be a guest of time. Time has no problem with itself because it is in time with itself. Remain receptive, as the sensations come towards you, do not know them. Give up a sense of owning the practice. Pass through personal relationship to what you feel. As we practice, attention to tissue sense invites a constant flow of sensation into consciousness. As sensitivity awakens, we devolve. Awareness retraces the evolutionary journey, from tissue to energy to space”.
For anyone teaching mindful movement and posture (such as Hatha Yoga), there are many gems in this book, which to my mind should be a part of the library of all yoga teachers. For teachers of iRest Body Sensing, this book provides some useful contextual ideas and language to build upon the body of knowledge that we already enjoy from Richard and those who have informed his teachings.