Laying the Groundwork is a presentation of how I conceptualize movement. My intention is to share the tools and methods I use in hopes that it helps others build their own culture of movement. There's nothing magic here, just an in-depth look at basic movement that through practice will yield greater awareness, foster new connections, and set the stage for substantial growth. Movement is a gift - value it, enjoy it, and share it.
Over the past few months I’ve been taking a more philosophical and somewhat idealistic approach to my work with movement. I guess I've been getting exhausted with the minutiae of fitness debates. Nothing wrong with it, that's just not me. I'm more concerned with empowering people outside these spheres. That starts with a simple message: move intelligently, often. Methods don't need to be more complex than that to get started. Because after all, it's not really about the specific skills you attain; it's about the bigger picture of movement and it's capacity to generate a positive upward spiral in your life. All the gooey, abstract, right-brain stuff we shy away from talking about because it's somehow less valid without a research study.
Establish perspective, philosophy, and mindfulness - the rest will fall into place. My new favorite tagline - “you can’t be a ninja if you have the awareness of a zombie" - is again applicable here.
Before all the science can be digested, there has to be an emotional connection to moving via positive reinforcement. Because of this emotional connection, I am often struck by how movement becomes such a thorough metaphor for life. The most fundamental example being you must crawl before you can sprint. We start out as helpless infants and progressively acquire new movement skills in response to our innate curiosity to navigate our environment. Rolling leads to crawling, standing, walking, running, jumping, climbing. Concurrently, self-identity takes shape, confidence grows, and we exude vitality. And then many times things come to a grinding halt. Our natural inclination to continue exploration suffocates as we conform to current social norms of being sedentary. I'd argue the costs are much higher than we think - physical limitations & pain create a mental/emotional prison. I want these norms to shift through reeducation of basic movement and progression towards greater complexity. The end goal is a modern resurgence of movement culture.
I want people to move again because I know what follows - love, gratitude, awe, acceptance, health, clarity, presence…and the list goes on and on. You'll have to forgive my lack of citations,
So there is my very philosophical opening to what is meant to be a very tangible series. I’ll call “Laying the Groundwork”. Here I'll be sharing my system of movement training starting with basic (yet non-conventional) ground-based movement variations that I use in my own practice. Much like the punctuation within a paragraph, these movements serve to connect movements transforming them into larger, more coherent expressions. These are the building blocks from which freedom of movement is constructed. This is a series about becoming fluent in the universal language of movement.
Getting down to brass tacks, I’m starting off with the side sit - a base of support created with one leg folded in front of the body, and one leg wrapped back behind the body. I was reintroduced to this position through my MovNat training, apparently it was nothing new for me though. I was paging through some family photo albums a while back and found a baby picture of me playing with a toy while side sitting, my mom had written the caption “His favorite position”. Some things don’t change, it’s still a go-to for me.
I regularly perform and teach several movement variations from side sitting: spinal rotations, hip rotations (swivels), leg sweeps, hinges, reaching, switching, rolling - all of which are demonstrated in the video. Try them out and exercise your right to play.
This is a very stable, and thus useful, base of support while moving on the ground. I find it less aggressive and much more versatile than being seated with crossed-legs. The hip complex, postural integrity, and overall coordination are challenged. Regression is enabled by limiting the range of motion and/or involving the arms for a greater degree of support. Progression can be introduced through external loading; hold onto a medicine ball, your (1st) glass of wine, your baby...or all three. Meh, that last one sounds like a CrossFit fail in the making, you get the idea though. The overall intention can be placed on executing movements more smoothly or placed on holding static positions for a stretch. All of this yields some nice physical adaptations. However, I feel the true benefit lies in the expansion of creativity and improvisation that results from mindful daily practice. It doesn’t have to be training. Have fun with it, use it practically, teach it to someone else - it may just become part of your movement culture too.