Saturday, September 18, 2010

How I Met Shmuel Tatz


I am an intuitive person. Long ago I made a commitment to myself; I promised to listen to my intuition and to give my intuitive voice more consideration than my logical voice. It started as an experiment, but I found it to be so freeing and precise that I have stuck with it.

For example, in 1995 I read an article in a fitness trade magazine called IDEA Today. The article described a new exercise technique called Nia. This new form of exercise called itself Mind/Body/Spirit fitness and combined martial arts, healing arts and dance arts. It was practiced barefoot. It focused on Pleasure over Pain. After reading the article, I contacted the Nia headquarters and signed up for a training in becoming a teacher. I instinctively knew, without ever having done a Nia class, that this was for me. My first Nia class was actually during my training. Fifteen years later, I’m still loving Nia and I thank my intuition for alerting me to the importance of that one article of the many articles I read about health and fitness.

The same is true of Yoga Tune Up®. I am an employee of the Equinox Fitness Club, and they send out monthly emails to their employees about opportunities to become trained in the latest fitness fad. I usually disregard them. I’m not big on fads and I feel like I’m already on the path I was meant to be on. But one day, I got an email describing Jill Miller’s Yoga Tune Up® and I stopped. I read it carefully and once again, I knew this was for me. I had never taken a Yoga Tune Up® class and I had never taught yoga. But I just felt that this was perfect for me.

I did practice yoga, but I felt that classes in general weren’t the best venue for the practice because of the high level of detail required and the limited ability to give the student the amount of attention required to properly perform many of the complex poses. So once again, I signed up blind. Simply based on what I read, and the feelings I was getting, I jumped in. Now I am a certified Yoga Tune Up® teacher and it’s been an important part of my life and my healing and rehabilitation from my shoulder injury.

So, it happened again. The first time I heard Shmuel’s name mentioned was by Jill Miller in my Yoga Tune Up® teacher training. She described a man who knew the body so well and who, without a word, could find the problem in your body and start fixing it. The way she spoke of him impressed me so much that it inspired me to bring him something I hadn’t trusted in anyones hands but my own: my shoulder injury.

I went to him and he seemed surprised that I hadn’t seen a doctor, gotten X-rays or MRI’s, that I didn’t have a referral or even insurance. I’m sure it’s a rare person that comes to him first. I suspect most people run to doctors first, and then are possibly referred to osteopaths and threatened with the prospect of surgery before they do something as desperate and alternative as physical therapy or Body Tuning.

During my session, I remember him doing some mobilizations of my shoulder that felt both vulnerable and borderline ecstatic/painful. It almost felt as if the joint was being moved. And felt like it was being put BACK into place. He kept on repeating the action, and it felt so strange, but I didn’t want him to stop because I had the feeling I really needed it. But then he moved to my neck and mention to me that it was a big part of the problem. He was right on, of course. So he moved that stuff around a bit, too; focused on the cervical vertebrae.

The manual mobilizations took about twenty minutes and then he has an assistant come in and apply what felt to me like prickly electrical impulses to my shoulder. This didn’t feel so good, but in the first few moments that Shmuel was touching my body, he gained my complete trust. My gut instinct was telling me that Jill was right; that this man knew exactly what he was doing.

When I walked home from that one visit, I noticed an unfamiliar feeling. My fingertips were brushing up against the side of my leg. What’s unusual, is that they had always brushed more towards the front of my thigh before. Which would indicate a forward position of the shoulders. But after one visit, he had my fingers swinging from a properly aligned shoulder joint.

I went back for a second visit and was anxious to see what Shmuel would unlock. And I was hoping he’d to that thing to my shoulder again. So, I got on the table and he did the shoulder movement thing, but to my disappointment it doesn’t feel the same way again. It seemed much freer, without that dramatic feeling that it was being put back into place. It actually felt like it was already IN place. I couldn’t believe how much change he effected in just one session.

I stopped seeing Shmuel because I couldn’t afford to pay the rates without insurance. A year went by. At some point I signed on to his emailing list. I don’t know why I did it. I didn’t logically know why I’d want to be getting emails from a physical therapist, but as I have said, I operate largely from instinct, and it seemed like what I should do.

So, last month, Shmuels sent out an email to his list. He said that after a period of fasting and meditation that he wanted to find a protege to teach his technique to. Although I hadn’t thought about going back into the field of bodywork (I had just decided to retire from show business and was busy building up my fitness business), I felt instinctively that this was a wonderful opportunity to study with a master. I responded to his email and expressed my interest.

He interviewed me a couple of times before finally saying, “I think you are ready.”

The strange thing about following your instinct is you never know where you’re going to be headed. Three months ago I had what I thought was a clear plan for my future and now it’s all different. I’m thrilled to be on this new journey, and I feel so fortunate to be able to learn this beautiful and powerful practice called Body Tuning.

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