This week while in class the teacher told me to pull my abs back more (not to suck in the tummy, but rather to scoop it back and also straighten the lower back) and when I did that, something happened: instant engagement of abs/back and my hips. It was the first time I was ever really able to feel myself turning out from the back of my legs in class. Massively improved my ability to stay turned out, and I did some pretty okay side dégagés. However, it felt pretty bad. Like my muscles were clenching my hip bones and grinding the socket à la mortar and pestle. Not healthy. When I tried to back off on the clenching feeling, the turnout muscles went dead and I lost my placement again.
Consulted some fora today and discovered that if I simultaneously ‘scoop the abs’ and ‘lift up and out of the hips’ I can reach the happy medium where my muscles remain engaged but are not clenching.
I haven’t been doing at home barres lately—conditioning via Pilates and back/leg exercises seems to be doing me much more good—but I may have to do a few this weekend just to attempt to bank some muscle memory.