Movement is central to human life. I think I can safely say that we all want to be good movers. In order to move well, you have have to move! Not only that, you have to move in a variety of ways. Motion is lotion, movement affords more movement. Healthy movement happens when the tissues of your body can slide and glide over one another.
Movement also requires strength and stability. Muscles move bones because they have contractile tissue. This tissue shortens the fibers to move a part. And when one part moves, other parts have to stabilize. Stability and control are the way the brain knows the movement is safe.
When you don’t move you don’t notice your limitations. If you try to move and can’t, or you experience pain, you become aware of your lack of range. I think sometimes when people to go a Yoga class or another movement practice and come up against their limitations they feel bad about themselves. I want to encourage you not to feel bad but rather to make a commitment to moving your body often. Explore. Practice. Play.
The brain registers pain or discomfort when you move the body in ways it is not used to. However, it is not uncommon for people to move better and not experience pain when they are playing. When you play you are relaxed, having fun, and not thinking about the limitation or discomfort.
So what happens if you meet your Yoga practice with a sense of playfulness and curiosity? When you come up against limitation I suggest moving away from it, and then gently back toward it. Please don’t try to plow through the resistance, it’s never a good idea. A better solution is to move in every other conceivable direction and then back toward it. This is how you make a change. Change has to happen in the brain via the nervous system.
This is one of the reasons I love the Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls and the Roll Model® Method techniques so much. When is doubt, put a ball in it! Just kidding. But I could not resist. It’s is just that the ball helps to make a connection to the brain. It paves a neural highway. The therapy balls are also micro-stretchers finding their way into nooks and crannies to help work out the knots. And they help to increase circulation and hydrate the tissues to promote more slide and glide.
Two new studies have just been published by fellow yogini, Robyn Capobianco. The findings are that “rolling for 1 minute prior to stretching the calf muscles increased range of motion out to 15 minutes.” In addition the study showed that less flexible people had the greatest benefit from rolling. How cool is that? If you’re interested, you can see the studies here and here.
Movement is just as crucial to life as nutritious food and sleep. And while I believe taking time out each day to practice Yoga is a worthy endeavor, 60-90 minutes is just not enough. You are inherently locomotive. So why not find creative ways to move your body in your everyday life? Chores and other activities provide moments of exploration and locomotion.
One thing I realize that I have done over the years is to live my Yoga practice. I integrate the awareness of good alignment and movement in my body into all parts of my day. Washing dishes, brushing my teeth, even sitting at my computer while I write this. Where can you find ways move more in your everyday life?