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But I can't touch my toes...

Updated: Oct 30, 2022

Movement v. Flexibility

As a yoga teacher I hear it all the time, “I can’t do yoga because I can’t touch my toes.” Or, “I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible.”

People regularly ask me how I get up and down off the floor so easily, or how I’m able to climb trees and scramble through slot canyons at the age of 55 with ease. It’s because I MOVE my body in a variety of different ways every day. Our bodies are not meant to be sedentary and static, but to dynamically move in different ways and directions with different loads.

Movement (and yoga) is about so much more than being “flexible.” One of the best explanations I’ve ever heard is from Garrett Neill DC, who is also a yoga teacher. I’ve incorporated these ideas about MOBILITY into my yoga classes, but also into my daily life. It’s all about functional movement:

“Flexibility doesn’t necessarily translate into functional movement. Mobility, on the other hand, is a little bit of a broader term. Mobility will embody coordination, balance, strength, AND flexibility. When you’re looking at flexibility, you’re looking at one aspect of movement.” ~~ Garrett Neill DC

When a yoga student once asked me how I get up and down so easily from the floor, I asked if she had grandchildren, to which she said yes. I asked her to watch her grandkids carefully, how they move their bodies on the floor, on chairs, on the playground, etc. They don’t spend their days going to an exercise class and then sitting in a chair all day long. I gave her homework to start moving her body like her grandkids do -- climb trees with them, sit on the floor with them. I gave her permission to stop at the next playground she sees and hop on the swings or hang from the monkey bars!

Yoga is a beautiful thing, because it gives us flexibility, coordination, balance, and strength. All the things we need for true mobility.

With that being said … beyond the yoga mat, how do you move your body? Do you bring flexibility, strength, balance, and coordination into your daily life?

For more information on this idea, I encourage you to read the books Move Your DNA and Dynamic Aging by Katy Bowman and check out her website Nutritious Movement. Better yet, attend one of the Nutritious Movement weekend workshops! (I'm not affiliated with Nutritious Movement in any way, I just really loved participating in the Move Your DNA Weekend Workshop.)

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