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In Defense Of Yoga...Et Al.

Why Movement? What is it? What benefits does it offer over any other “modality” ? ⁣ I get it... It’s confusing. Movement is a generic term, thrown around, usually accompanied by people doing strange motions with their bodies, and things that look like anything else you might see in a fitness class.⁣ ⁣ So,I will take each exercise modality and address them one at a time. I'm excited for the constructive conversations to follow!⁣ ⁣ YOGA ⁣ ⁣ I’d like to disclose immediately that I DO NOT think you should stop doing whatever exercise modality you are currently enjoying. ⁣ Every trainer in our movement studio has gotten their ass handed to them in a CrossFit box but enjoyed it in one way or another. We will offer the benefits of having a generalist approach to fitness and some drawbacks to specializing ONLY in one form of cult (I mean modality) or the another. But I mean it as a suggestion to diversify, not abandon your current place of fitness worship.⁣ ⁣ You see us seated in a deep squat (Malasana) and you think, “Oh, I get it! You do yoga.” ⁣ ⁣ Yes, we "do yoga", but no, our practice is not only yoga. We encourage our students to practice, and offer several yoga classes. ⁣ ⁣ Yoga is a beautiful practice that offers its practitioners a state of flow. It is mindful in that it allows the attention to remain on the breath, and physical sensations in the body, as you move from posture to posture. Yoga offers pranayama, (study of the breath). The body reflects the mind, and the mind reflects the breath. If you can control the breath, you can control the mind.⁣ ⁣ Practicing yoga will increase flexibility and strength. The reasons why strength and flexibility, are, obviously (and not so obviously) imperative to a well lived life, is a topic for another day. However, yoga does provide it in summary. What it doesn’t provide, is the opportunity for "pull strength." You may push your weight away from the mat in Chaturanga, or handstand, but you are not pulling your own body weight anywhere. ⁣ ⁣ So who cares? Well, when you are hanging from a cliff, and can't save yourself because you lack the pre-requisite strength to pull your own body weight, you'll figure it out. ⁣ Okay… not always an applicable scenario. However, not only is developing just a few areas of strength lazy, it is ineffective for providing real strength. ⁣ ⁣ Well rounded strength is obtained when you can handle a varying load, across as many joints as possible, from as many directions as possible. Not only does this require you to have more actual strength, but it will prevent injury. ⁣ ⁣

What Yoga does better than a lot of other modalities is mobility down the spine. Cats/cows, and spinal flexion/extension are all done frequently and provide great benefits to practitioners. However, unless you are the Queen Goddess Megan Currie herself, you are still likely lacking in all the possible ways there are to move your spine. And, if you don’t use it… you lose it. In a movement class we take the spine through its full range of motion. Expanding and exploring increased complexity of movement patterns across the spine and across all the joints. ⁣ ⁣ Yoga remains my single favorite modality. The best part? It is so widely available that anyone, regardless of financial status, can access it. It is accessible and reproducible. I can roll out my mat anywhere without much thought, and practice, no matter the state of my mind or my whereabouts in the world. Because its so widely practiced, it offers a sense of comfort. A friend of mine told me she doesn’t like the practice because when she thinks "movement" she thinks shirtless guys in the park showing off handstands. Yes, a movement practice will require you to leave your comfort zone and proceed with courage. Just another benefit, in my opinion. We don't grow unless we are made uncomfortable. However, because Yoga is mass taught, and teacher training certificates are handed out without much oversight, what is taught is extremely watered down. This leads to injury and lack of progression.⁣ ⁣ I can almost hear all the Yogi's. "Progression? That's not the point of yoga. The point of Yoga is to lose the sense of self and join with something higher than yourself." That is why I love it so much. We strive for progression like a plant seeks the sun. Setting goals sets us on a path. As per every cliché on the topic, it is not about the destination. It is about the journey. And setting a physical goal sets you on a journey that teaches you so much about yourself. ⁣ ⁣ Let's take the handstand as an example. Advanced Asana practitioners will practice handstands in their flow. But it is rarely taught with proper progressions. The handstand requires a process outside of the realm of a yoga flow. It requires specific training in balance, strength, mobility across several joints, flexibility, and above all, time and respect of the process. Therefore, progression of the Asanas with an intelligent approach is not easily achievable within a 60 minute flow guided by a teacher that may or may not have learned it anatomically correct in the first place. ⁣ ⁣ Now, to give discredit where discredit is due, it is possible to go too far in the other direction and fall off the Movement culture cliff. In our space we do not "demand" anyone to achieve a 60 second hold within 6 months of "serious practice." We do not require you have any interest in hand balancing at all. Although we will talk about the many benefits of all types of inversions(Forward fold included), we are all human beings and we have lives, children, jobs, spouses, friends, hobbies, and varying interests.⁣ ⁣ This all leads me to my point. No fitness modality is all inclusive of every single thing you need, for your physical body to thrive for as long as possible. Not even ours. But, we do aim to get as close as we can get. If you generalize instead of specialize, you are going to achieve more physical benefits. You'll be able to address the blind spots in any particular practice. Ideally you would learn as many modalities as possible, from the very best trainers. If you are like me, and don’t have time to travel to, and attend Yoga, CrossFit, dance, personal training, adult gymnastics, martial arts, soccer, HITT, then a Movement practice is a good place to start. ⁣ ⁣ Come check it out. ⁣ ⁣ P.S. I love Yoga! ⁣ ⁣ Cody⁣