Rah is different. It’s supposed to be. The fact that this evokes such a colorful range of emotions from those who take it makes me giggle with glee! Why?! Because… that’s the point! We want you to react!
Rah born out of the following paradigms of influence: somatic psychology (the process of using the body to heal), neuropsychology, self-hypnotism, and movement therapy.
The targeted goals of this workout are three-pronged:
# 1: Feel. React to stimuli with emotion. Reflect on your recent past and attach an emotion to it. How do we facilitate that? By giving you an experience that activates this internal process. This is why we use the words we use. It’s supposed to be jarring. It’s supposed to feel slightly uncouth. Did you love the class? Are you incredibly fearful of it now? Did you absolutely loath the entire experience? Doesn’t matter either way because ultimately, the objective has been achieved.
We as a society, but women in particular, are conditioned to keep our emotions at bay… to stuff them down deep inside because “there’s no room for that ‘stuff’ in/ at / during _______(fill in the blank).” We may walk around not fully connected to our emotions. When a colleague asks you, “how are you?” What is your response? Is it genuine? Honest? When you say, “I’m fine, thank you! How are you?!” do you really mean it?
#2: Affirm. The phrases we use are affirmations, or positive statements that paint a mental picture of how you want your life to be. Specifically, we are promoting self-love. A lot of how we feel about ourselves is held outside of our conscious awareness (it’s actually an adaptive feature of the human psyche). This also means that it is hard to reach! Affirmations, with repetition, help re-program this part of the psyche. This is why we say what we say in class, and repeat it several times.
The science behind this is simple: the body reflects mind and mind reflects body. They are connected. If you work with the mind, you affect the body. This, we know, that’s the usual direction, and pretty much a major premise in psychological science. BUT, what we don’t consider as often is that this process is BIDIRECTIONAL. This means that we can also work with the body to affect the mind! It is a mechanism of mutual feedback. Strong body, strong mind. Happy body, happy mind.
# 3: Empower. This comes directly from a 2009 study by Leseho & Maxwell who set out to answer the question, “what do women want?” They found that, universally, want to: feel a sense of independence and freedom (“we are powerful!) the ability to cope with stress (“we don’t give a…”), appreciate their bodies (two CCS sequences instead of one? You’re welcome, ladies…), embrace their femininity (“I’m hot!”), express emotion (“Stop, *****!”) feel whole, and feel grounded.
This class should be a cathartic release that transforms your emotional state to promote health and psychological growth. Not to mention you are getting a crazy good work-out. And guess what? Yelling while you Lithe not only increases your core strength, makes the work-out more intense, but it will, with time, improve your lung capacity.
Are you Rah-shy? Does the thought of “cheering” while you work-out make you want to run for the hills? No! come back! You don’t have to yell! It’s just for fun. It’s optional. Try not to take it too seriously! At the end of the day, this is your hour. Modify! For example, if you are uncomfortable in stiletto at the barre, you work flat-footed. It’s all about YOU and what works for YOU. Just because the instructor cues for stiletto doesn’t mean you have to conform... If a particular chant makes you uncomfortable, try a modification; use a different word! Or, maybe you just choose to double-jump-plyo your heart out and not chant at all. It's all about what makes you comfortable.
One of our missions at Lithe is to challenge you, so that you never stagnate and never plateau. If someone has been coming to class for a while and working flat foot, I might challenge them to try out stiletto. This is how we grow: by pushing ourselves and taking chances. We talk a lot about pushing ourselves physically to get through these work outs. Why? Because that’s the point, and that’s how you see results. Do the same thing for your mind. My personal challenge to you is to push yourself to move beyond your mental comfort zone. Come back and take it again, see how different instructors put their own spin on it. Give it a go. Yell your heart (and lungs) out… what do you have to lose?
So step outside your comfort zone. Really step outside of it. If you can, chill there for a second. You might just find that your comfort zone is bigger than you thought. Above all else, take comfort in knowing that there is a method to the madness. A Lithe Method, to be precise.
Image of Lithe Instructor Annette Kaplafka via Dom