Notes from the 6/23/2019 workshop:

To better understand movement it helps to also understand the language we use and hear to describe it. Below is a list of the terms that we talked about and experienced in our movement.

  1. Mobility: The active range of motion in a specific part of the body.

  2. Range of motion: Full movement potential of a joint.

    • Active range of motion - Your body (muscles) do the work to move with no help from your hands, floor or another person. Ex. tree pose without using your hand to pull your foot into your thigh.

    • Passive range of motion - You or another person moves the joint or body part through the range of motion with no muscular effort from that joint/body part. Ex. wrist extension utilizing the floor or your other hand to increase the range.

  3. Flexibility: The passive range of motion in a specific part of the body.

  4. Stability: The strength to endure when disturbed. To respond/recover from perturbation. Control.

  5. Functional movement: Movements based on real-world situational biomechanics. They usually involve multi-planar, multi-joint movements which place demand on the body's core musculature and innervation.

  6. Fundamental movement: Developmental or foundational movement or precursor patterns, to the more specialized and complex skills used in play, games and specific disciplines and sports.

  7. Motor learning: The process of improving motor skills, both the smoothness and accuracy of movements. A relatively permanent change in the ability to execute a motor skill as a result of practice or experience. Not often talked about in yoga, but that’s exactly what we did when we moved differently - via crawling, walking on props, balancing blankets on our feet. We challenged our motor learning with the unfamiliar, out of the box-asana. ;)

  8. High play: A major theme in our workshop. It is often used to refer to adults exploring movement or their environment with a sense of curiosity and wonderment and without a preset plan or hard agenda. To be open to possibility and discovery of new movement no matter how simple.

Food for yogi thought:

More of the brain is devoted to movement than language. Language is only a little thing sitting on top of this huge ocean of movement. - Oliver Sacks.

The focus of this workshop was to break out of habitual movements and move differently. Mobility and stability are the dynamic duo we used to do that (which meant fewer static holds and passive stretching). Diversity is a vital component of building strength and resiliency - physically, emotionally, and mentally. Since our body and mind thrive on variety it’s a good fit for progressing our movement vocabulary in classic yoga mat practice. We (our muscles and nervous system) get more input as to what we are doing and where we are in any given yoga asana (posture). An invitation to stop looking for poses and start searching for movement.

The invitation was to be process oriented rather than outcome oriented. There was literally no wrong way to be… “high play.”

Below are video links that highlight some of the movement we did together. More of this can be found on my FB page by clicking on “videos” along the left side of the page. There’s a whole library of movement stored there that I continue to add to.

Crawling - Developmental movement. A simple, but often overlooked movement that establishes neural connections and improves communication between the left + right hemispheres of your brain. It connects 3 sensory systems: vestibular (your balance system) proprioceptive (your sense of self in space) and visual (your sight). It’s a perfect warm-up or movement snack to improve mobility and stability.

T-spine mobility - In studio we used a foam roller to focus on upper back mobility in the T-spine (thoracic spine). See video for how to do. We also deconstructed cat-cow pose to reveal how we move from where we’re already mobile and not so much from where we’re not (the upper back). With a block on the low back try moving ONLY from the upper back, it’s small. Then place the block on your upper back and ONLY move from your low back. This is one way we can learn to disassociate movement and figure out where it’s coming from and not coming from. It’s small, subtle work that will reward you with a happy spine.

Blanket Pulls - Our classic yoga practice offers us a whole lot of pushing action, but not so much pulling (ex: think pull-ups, dead lifts, rowing, lat-pulldowns). In a studio setting (any smooth floor) blanket pulls are a fun and accessible way to introduce pulling to your shoulders - especially if we’re not using our arms to pull in other activities. A little pulling can help fortify our upper body and you might find it helps your yoga practice feel better.

Teacup drills - Blanket balance on feet. It’s fun, it’s whole body and whole brain. Nuff’ said. We used blankets, but you can do this with a magazine or a yoga block too for an extra challenge.

90/90 AKA Pinwheel pose - My favorite hip mobility move. This clip shows the moving version where we try not to use the hands to move from left and right. In-between you can pause and fold forward for a moderate hip stretch. A benefit to this is we get some internal rotation of the back leg (something else we don’t get a lot of in classic yoga). Move all the ways.

Standing hip balance w/mobility - This move reminds us that we can find movement anywhere we are. In the studio we used the foam roller as a target to step over. The video says it all. If a foam roller is too tall you can use literally anything to challenge your range. Bonus balance work on one leg.

Our four asana flow that linked all our movement exploration together!

For al the ways you can choose to spend your valuable time, thank you for spending it with me in this workshop exploring mobility and stability.

Yours in movement, namaste!