The Bodhi Suspension System: A Brief Review
Watch out TRX, there’s a new suspension system out on the fitness scene. The Bodhi suspension system is suspension training with a Pilates twist. Suspension training is a form of resistance training which uses a series of ropes along with your body weight. The ropes are attached to what is referred to as the anchor- a pipe, beam, or ring, either mounted to the wall or suspended from the ceiling. By using handles and/or straps attached to the ropes, you can perform an array of different dynamic movements. You’re basically working against gravity with the goal of developing strength, balance, flexibility, and joint mobility. Bodhi provides two anchor points and four possible points of suspension, whereas the TRX system has only a single anchor and two points of suspension. The additional points of suspension make more variations available and can provide a deeper movement experience.
In this humble Pilates teacher’s opinion; double the suspension, double the fun!
The creator of the system is a woman named Khita Whyatt. When a car accident left her with significant paralysis to her left side, Khita took control and began conceptualizing her return to health. The shearing injury, which had damaged the connections between the two hemispheres of her brain, impeded communication between the right and left side and made it feel as though her brain could not find the left side and get it to function voluntarily. Along with the disconnect from her left side, she also could no longer contract her deeper muscles, including the transverse abdominals. Because of her strong understanding of the body (Khita was a Rolfer and longtime Pilates practitioner), she knew she would have to develop a system that would re-engage the non-responsive deep and mid layer muscles without being able to consciously feel or contract them. The way, she discovered, was through an anchor and a couple of ropes. Enter Bodhi.
Bodhi means “awaken” in Sanskrit. It was an aptly named system. When your body moves in and out of alignment with gravity, it stimulates a reaction in the deepest muscles; that of “hugging into the bone”. The body has something called the righting reflex, also known as the Labyrinthine righting reflex, for all you nerds out there. It refers to your body’s reflex to correct its orientation when taken out of the upright position. So when you lean into the ropes, it is your body’s reflexive reaction to contract even some of the deepest muscles which also provides support for your joints. You can also modify the intensity of the movement by adjusting your center of gravity, or by deepening the lean. The deeper the lean, the more the stabilizing muscles of the body, including the deep core, spinal erectors, and shoulder girdle have to work. Through her training on the Bodhi, Khita was able to re-educate her neuromuscular system to fire in a coordinated fashion and re-stimulate her sense of stability, mobility, and proper alignment. She has experienced a full recovery and I have been told if you met her, you’d never be able to tell she was partially paralyzed.
The fact that the Bodhi is suspended from two anchor points means you have a more anatomically correct set up which is more kinesthetically pleasing and allows for a greater variety of movement patterns. The Bodhi’s two suspension points also allow for a lot of creativity. When I participated in a Bodhi teacher training, I was amazed at the scope and diversity of the exercises that can be performed on this most simple of designs. Exercises can be done standing, lying face down and on your back (supine and prone, respectively, if you want to get technical) and even lying on your side. Different points of suspension can be added to each exercise. For example, a row (an exercise where, leaning away from your anchor, you pull your arms toward you body retracting your shoulders together) with both feet planted of the floor feels very different from a row with one leg suspended by a strap. So, regardless of your fitness level, the Bodhi can accommodate your individual needs. An exercise can be of a beginner to an intermediate level or can be more advanced and athletic. As with any session you’ll experience at Beyond Motion, the difficulty level will be adjusted to be appropriate for you.
The Bodhi is a very intuitive system and provides a unique movement experience. We have had a lot of success implementing it into Pilates sessions with all of our clients. It’s a very cool experience that we recommend to anyone looking for a fun, innovative workout that challenges your body in an entirely new way.
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