Why Movement Matters
“Movement is the song of the body.” ~ Vanda Scaravelli
At one time we, as humans, would have moved around during most of our waking hours. In the modern era, many of us have become experts at sitting on furniture that is comfortable enough that we can remain still for long periods of time.
Access to modern conveniences means we have outsourced a lot of our movement. And it has been to our detriment. Many of our modern health challenges can be sourced to a lack of regular movement in our day-to-day lives.
What are some of the ways in which you have outsourced your movement? Perhaps:
– Using a clothes dryer vs. hanging clothes up to dry
– Driving when its possible to walk
– Using electric kitchen appliances like blenders, dishwashers, and more replacing a lot of movement inside the home.
I’m sure you can think of many more!
I’m not saying that we need to get rid of all of our modern conveniences. Rather I invite you to notice what movements you have lost because of them. And, how does your body feel? How does your mind feel? How has lack of movement affected your mood?
Over the past few years, I have become more consciously aware of the connection between how I feel when I have healthy movement throughout my day compared with those days where I spend a lot of time in front of a screen (like the one I am using right now, ironically).
Movement helps my body feel good, helps my mind feel more alert and reduces my pain levels. Movement, especially the great variety and complexity of movement in yoga asana, is a key way to keep my body and brain functioning well. Movement can feel like meditation in motion and is good medicine for my entire being.
Good news! Movement doesn’t need to look like what you may perceive to be “exercise”. “Working out” is an artificial way to get us to do what our bodies have done for most of human history, including the regular movements we have lost or forgotten over time.
Movement can be subtle, like conscious breath work. It can be non-strenuous, like what you might experience in a gentle yoga class. Movement can also be more robust, like what you may do in a vigorous exercise class or sport where your heart-rate is elevated for some time.
The big take-away here is that it really doesn’t matter what type of movement you do as long as you move regularly and include as much variety as possible.
I’ve had a 30+ year relationship with yoga and, if anything, I appreciate the practice of asana more now than I did when I first stepped onto a yoga mat. Why? Because I understand the value of all the different positions and loads that an asana practice offers.
We also live in an exciting time in the evolution of yoga! A lot of contemporary research reinforces what the great yoga teachers of the past have asserted: if you move well, you will also think, feel and live well.
I’m particularly excited by recent movement research that includes biomechanics and movement practices that are easy to incorporate into asana practice and classes. I’m looking forward to sharing what I have learned in my Natural Movement weekend workshop in April. We will explore how our modern living has affected our alignment, strength and flexibility and we’ll explore some great techniques to improve our alignment and restore some movements we have lost.