If you are of an age, like me, you may recall those little toys that have a figure on the top of a plastic base. The base had a spring that when the underneath of the base was pushed caused the figure atop to collapse, when released, the figure would become straight and upright.
I often use this figure to compare functional movement when I teach my yoga classes, let me clarify.
Pilates and yoga teach us that we need to have a strong core to move safely and with stability, avoiding injury, moving without dysfunction i.e functional movement.
When we move through the sequences in the yoga I teach we learn to engage the core, exhale recruit more engagement and then load the body with movement. This act will stabilise the spine ensuring safe controlled movement, we actually glide through space rather than launch into the movement and land. Couple this process with regulation of the breath and it becomes an all engaging mindful activity.
We are never really taught how to move, it is instinctive although through developing these techniques and awareness, the brain and nervous systems over time will create new neural connections, build more muscle fibre and improve overall integrity of movement. This is clearly evident when you see an experience yogi moving through the practice.
This will also benefit anyone away from the yoga mat. Ever wondered why the back may ache the next day after a day spent in the garden? Most likely that we have put the lower spine under stress and the dysfunctional movement therein has traumatised the deep muscles and connective tissue. I noticed myself that with conscious engagement of my core when carrying out any such physical activity really pays off the next day.
This is not just the core either, shoulders are another area where we incur injuries through seemingly innocuous movement. Many people suffer rotator cuff, shoulder impingement and, worse case, frozen shoulder issues these days. Yoga teaches us to stabilise the scapula when moving and holding the postures, I sound like a stuck record on this point in my classes having endured impingement in the past before I tool up yoga. Becoming aware of the functional movement of the shoulder girdle will empower people to protect the rotator cuff, reducing the risk of this nasty injury.
So, coming back to the little plastic toy, our intention through yoga is to move our bodies when the button at the base is not pressed, we have strength and stability through the body through the movement.