Movement - Man was created to move. Since the dawn of time humans have relied on movement to bring home dinner and to escape predators, which developed humans into the most versatile of all animals occupying the earth. Despite the lack of superior talent in any one aspect the humans have thrived and become the master generalists, being able to achieve most things apart from flying (without assistance, that is). True, we are no match in raw strength to the Gorilla. The big cats will leave us far behind in a sprint. We lack the deadly arsenal of fangs, claws and venom and we are pretty wimpy in terms of our ability to hold our breath. But we have great ability to combine our multitude of mediocre talents into a whole that is by far greater than the sum of its’ parts.
When we are looking at the evolutionary path of the human there have been a few important forks along the road that have led to the modern man. The most recent of these forks only happened very recently and it may be the most crucial of all of them, or least the only one we have any control over. Since the advent of machines and tools humans have had more leisure, comfort and convenience than ever before. This turn of events has caused our cultural evolution to accelerate exponentially but has not altered our biological evolution - and it is highly problematic. We are still occupying the bodies that thrive on multitude of physical challenges and with factory settings that are highly tuned into the ebb and flow of the nature around us. Yet our culture has diverged from physical stimulation and challenge to favour physical stagnation and mental challenges.
The human body has two communication systems that are greatly involved in movement. The fascial system is almost entirely dedicated to movement related data and a large proportion of the sensory nervous system deals with proprioceptive information. When the movement related input is not forthcoming it leads to significant under stimulation of the brain, which can lead to a multitude of ailments and illnesses. Incidentally many chronic modern day illnesses relating to lifestyle can be either completely reversed or greatly improved by increasing the quantity of movement as well as increasing the quality and variety of movement in ones daily life.
Why - In order to improve ones’ quality of life and longevity it is vital to engage the body daily in a variety of physical activity. Variety is the keyword, as most of us are intimately familiar with repetitive strain injuries and recurrent aches and pains across the body. Variety indeed is the antidote to excessive repetition. Diverse physical challenges open floodgates of stimulation into the brain, leading to activation of virtually all the systems contained within. More importantly, the stimuli are in a format that the brain can understand. That is why it feels ‘right’ when we engage in learning new skills or push our bodies to the limits. The benefits of daily exercise challenges go far beyond those limited to communications alone, but also directly improve circulation, digestion, cognitive function, sleep quality and rate of recovery as well.
What - Exercise has traditionally been divided into a number of categories. One could either do cardio or weights, yoga or martial arts, Racquet sport or swimming, skiing or golf, horse riding or gymnastics. In a way this division has been very artificial and the frowning upon mixing it up has been very limiting. Let’s face it - There is no such thing as bad movement, but lots of movement is done badly. What this idea of focusing on movement, regardless of the sport or discipline is about, is that you can find the meaning and the satisfaction from learning the skills and from the challenge. When your focus is internal and you are aware of yourself during any activity (even something as mundane as cleaning your teeth) you allow the communication pathways to open up fully. Therefore adding variety into your daily activities is very important. You can absorb influence from any or all disciplines of movement and apply it in a creative manner and learn what your body is capable of.
How - Movement is fun! In a way this is the benefit to eclipse all others as the instant gratification of doing something for its’ own sake is extremely satisfying. More specifically tough, you literally start from where ever you are by paying attention to your body and how you are feeling. You can engage the body in any position, anywhere - make it up as you go. For those who do need a bit of guidance, check out Tai chi, Qigong, Yoga, Pilates, Running, Parkour, gymnastics, capoeira, martial arts, dancing, cycling, swimming, racquet sports, skiing, or any other of the million possibilities out there. Join in and get going. It’s your life and YOU have to live it.
If you are a...
Beginner: Join a class (of anything). Pick a skill and get onto Youtube and check out the abundant tutorials out there. JUST MAKE A START! You will find that you enjoy it and will want to do more. If you come across something you don’t enjoy - try something else. Simple. There are no rules.
Mover: Visit a movement workshop or a camp in any discipline you like for fresh ideas and for helpful criticism on your form and techniques. You are in a position where you can improve your strengths as well as pay attention to developing your weaknesses with the aim of mastering yourself and your environment. You can start mixing it up across the different disciplines and creating something new that is your own.
Movement Artist: The world is your oyster. Enjoy. Explore. Challenge yourself. As you already know, that elusive perfection is an illusion, yet striving towards it is highly meaningful and satisfying. Each question answered opens up more and more ways to frame the question and hence yields potentially more and more different answers. Let yourself become immersed and enjoy the process. Teach. Part of your calling is to spread the message and to help others learn about this skill set that allows us humans to truly express ourselves.
Take Home Message - Move, for your life depends on it!
Stay Tuned for more exciting content coming your way.