6 Principles for Functionally Fit Exercise

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Hope in High Lunge

  1. Three dimensional– In order to do the things we need to in life, we have to move in a multidimensional form. So, in order to improve our overall health and ability to live and function, our yoga class should too. This involves moving in three planes of motion: sagittal, which moves front to back (lunge); frontal, which moves side to side (like triangle); and transversus, which cuts the body in half, top to bottom (a movement like a twist or cross of the midline). Challenge yourself as a teacher or practitioner, and move in as many ways as possible.
  2. Gravity– When we step onto the mat, we need to take into consideration that gravity is always around us and upon us. Try to play with gravity in as many different positions and movement patterns as possible, and see what happens. Especially when it comes to the pelvic core and gravity, we will see the body respond differently.
  3. Dynamic– We often think of “dynamic” as complicated or having a lot of parts. But dynamic can also be movement using multiple forms. Here’s what I mean by this: When you step into a lunge, your arms always go forward and up, but what about moving your arms out to the sides or back by your hips? This way, you give yourself a dynamic range rather than always the same performance. Dynamic can also be moving in and out of a pose at variable speeds and levels depending on your ability. This type of dynamics can offer the muscles a less stressful way to release and the mind time to get to know the new body part discovered.
  4. Individualized– It is important to understand that each individual’s needs are unique. Believing that everyone in a class should be doing something exactly the same is not only crazy but also harmful. If we just consider men and women, our bodies are drastically dissimilar. Testosterone and estrogen act totally different on muscles and the build of a person’s body. Bone size, shape and spacing, as well as tendons, muscles and ligaments, all are very different from men to women.
  5. Breathe– This seems like a simple concept considering the average person takes a breath anywhere from 21,000-24,000 times a day. But the reality is that most people are shallow breathers and, on top of that, hold their breath. If you have the desire to improve your physical body and get healthy, it really needs to start with your breath. Weak breath flow has a slew of negative consequences, including poor digestion, asthma, anxiety, depression, headaches, muscle cramps and even pelvic floor dysfunction. So before you step onto a yoga mat, into a physical therapy clinic or a Zumba class, get educated and learn how to breathe; your body will thank you.
  6. Acknowledging the mind and spirit– We are not just a body bouncing around from point A to point B. One of the reasons I love yoga is that yoga understands that this physical body is the most superficial form of the self. There is so much more to understand than just what you see physically. And usually when you have a physical symptom or issue, that “issue” has been going on for quite some time — the physical body is the soul’s last attempt to get us to listen. When I exercise or step onto my mat, it is just as much a spiritual experience as prayer or meditation, if not more, because now there is an honoring of the body involved that I have to act on and respect … something that I can very well translate into my everyday life.

This article was featured in the April 2013 Edition of Nature’s Pathway’s Magazine Southeast Wisconsin Edition. To view this article and rate it or “LIKE” it please do so here on my Blog and at NPM CLICK



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