But I can't touch my toes...

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.”

I have 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 54 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 a variety of ways.

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 a Zumba 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 such a beautiful thing, because it gives us flexibility, coordination, balance, and strength.

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 Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman and check out her website Nutritious Movement.

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