Can this word dance freely out of one's mouth, even in a context that seems so innocent and fair-minded at first sight? I am writing about the word ‘assimilation’ which comes from Latin ‘ad-’, meaning ‘to, towards’, and ‘similis’, meaning ‘similiar’. Over time, the ‘d’ of the prefix ‘ad-’ assimilated itself with the ‘s’ of ‘similis’. So the word itself represents the idea of assimiliation. This word exists for a long time and has been used in various contexts.
I am writing about Assimilation Pose at the end of a Bowspring practice. Time to lie on your back, legs extented out, arms resting next to your body, palms facing up. Time to connect the dots that came up during the movement. Time to relax and let go. Time for your body to learn and understand what has happened during the practice. How can this pose be given such a name?
I have struggled with this in my very first Bowspring class. I am still struggling with it and I probably will struggle with this word forever. You guessed right, my relationship with this word is not good. I might accept it in a purely biological sense, where it means that the body absorbs and digests food. But I cannot accept it at the end of a nurturing, healing movement practice. It instantly destroys all the good feelings that have been established during class. It's not that I do not understand the meaning and intention of the word. I perfectly understand that my body absorbs and digests the food that was given in the form of movement. I understand that my body learns and incorporates the new stretches, twists and alignments while resting.
What I don't understand is the use of this word in the context of a movement practice. I would be much happier if it would just be called Digestion Pose or Realisation Pose. But this word has a long history of forcing minorities to be similar to dominant cultures: to take over their customs, habits and practices and to forget about the own ethical heritage and traditions. This has happened to indigenous people of the European colonies but also to Jews all throughout history and across countries.
So why do I want to push away this word with all my heart? Do I want to look away from all the cruelties that have happened to people throughout history? Do I just want to have a cosy life, doing some movement practice, relax after it and continue with my life without looking back in history and all around me?
Of course, this would be much more comfortable. So it could be a good thing that Bowspring brings up all those dark aspects of humanity. But is it intentional? Does every Bowspring teacher and student reflect on those forms of oppression? Or is this word used randomly by people who are not aware of what this word is also implying?
Every word matters. Once sent out with intention, it will be perceived in many ways. Between intention and perception is room for misunderstandings. Some words have a greater likelihood to be misunderstood. Some words should better not be used at all. Should just be reduced to a letter. A.
© Barbara Neubauer 2021-07-20