Soft but with a dynamic, powerful, almost lyrical undertone, Juliu Horvath, creator and founder of Gyrokinesis exercise and the Gyrtonic Expansion System[R], begins instructing his level 1 Gyrokinesis class: "Sit up straight; gather your energies, straight but soft; so that your spine is like a child's, slightly wobbling, so the flesh of your body can relax on the top of your bones. Enter into your bone structure, close your eyes for a moment, and just feel that everywhere your bones are completely, completely resting, hanging practically, relaxing. Try to carry this relaxation throughout the whole system so all the movements, especially in the beginning, should be soft but concrete, firm a little bit, but still very soft. Now come out of it, and keep this mood while you begin to awaken your senses...."
Gyrokinesis exercise is the 65-year-old Hungarian-born Horvath's first love, which he created more than 25 years ago after injuring himself as a professional ballet dancer. It is a total-body conditioning and balancing system of movement that encourages the spine and joints to stay open and strong. The work stimulates the anatomy's major organ systems and incorporates special breathing techniques, particular to each group of exercises within the methodology. Fluidity of motion while performing the moves is also a key premise.
The system's unique movement signature is "three-dimensional, using gentle repetitive circling, spiraling and undulating exercises in a set rhythm," says master trainer Magali Messac of Gyrotonic Seattle, a former principal ballerina for American Ballet Theatre. "Most importantly, an energetic polarity is encouraged by simultaneously reaching in opposite directions, creating both internal balance and support. Through the constant ebb-and-flow and push-and-pull movements, connective tissues are prompted to maintain their suppleness."
In the past, Gyrokinesis has been described as embracing the basic principles of yoga, swimming, dance, tai chi and gymnastics, but Horvath says his system has evolved owing to many years of experimentation and intense study. As he puts it, "People will experience the same benefits from Gyrokinesis and Gyrotonic as they do from these other modalities, but my work is not derived from these other systems."
Advocates of the method maintain that regular practice fosters increased mobility, assists the body's regenerative capacity and opens energetic pathways, increasing blood flow and oxygenation. The result, they say, is a renewed sense of vitality and well-being.
"Your body is basically a repository for the physical and emotional trauma that you have been through in your life. It records this information internally, like a videotape; what Gyrokinesis does is erase that tape," says Billy Macagnone, master trainer and owner of Body Evolution studio in New York City. "[With practice,] the body will regenerate and reorganize after pain and injury or from incorrect or [insufficient] movement. The benefit of the work, bottom line, is a new home for your body."
Three Key Principles
The Gyrokinesis methodology incorporates many varied concepts, but three key principles are important to consider, according to the master trainers interviewed for this article.
1. Narrowing of the Pelvis. This...