Monday, September 20, 2010

Eight Principles of Movement

Many of the teachers at Yoga North have had Therapeutic Yoga training with Susi Hately Aldous. She sums up her training with 8 Principles of Movement to help us get out of pain. Of course there is a lot to learn about each of these (if we want to confuse ourselves and make it complicated). Or we can just keep it simple, follow the principles, build awareness and work to get out of pain.

From Susi's "I Love Anatomy" Ezine: 
Eight Principles of Movement
from Anatomy and Asana: 
Preventing Yoga Injuries

by Susi Hately Aldous

Susi's first book - click to link to site.
1. Nourish Relaxation. This principle is all about creating ease in the body. It is in this state that you can become aware of your body, and recognize the whispers that are letting you know when to back off, when to go deeper, when to switch practices. One of my favourite mantras is "when you listen to the body when it whispers, you don't have to hear it scream". Something to try - listen, really listen to the whispers in your practice. 

2. Begin with the Spine in Mind. The spine is the hub of our movement, and it is also the geographical area for a tonne of nervous, vascular, muscular and fascial connection. From here, nerves move peripherally to tell the body how fast and how much to contract. Something to try - when you move, consider what your spine is doing throughout the movement. Don't try to change it, just be aware of it and feel what it does. 

3. Connect the Spine with the Largest Joints First. Many practices build asanas from the feet up, or the hands up. I like to begin centrally and out. Why? Because a large degree of movement happens (or we want it to happen) at the shoulders and hips. If it doesn't happen there...compensations are going to occur. Improve movement at your shoulders and hips...and you will know happiness! Something to try - when you raise your arms to the sky, do your ribs pop out, or do you try to hold your ribs from popping out? If so, only move your arms as far as your ribs stay ease-y and quiet. With no extra effort. 

4. Move Your Joints In Their Optimal Range of Motion.  I love this principle since it brings in the "depends" factor. If you were just on a hike, then your practice will likely be different than the day prior to your hike. If you have osteoarthritis, your practice will be different than someone who doesn't have osteoarthritis. Be ease-y with yourself. I promise that if you move in the pure range of motion that is available for your joint, your range will improve. Something to try - when you move your leg in your hip socket in Tree Pose, does your pelvis move? If so, you aren't moving as purely as you could be...try making the movement more pure and see what happens. 

5. Core Stability: Boost Up Your Bandhas and Breathe. Core stability is so vital to a practice, and more often than not, I see people working far too hard at something that is very simple. Something to try - when you are engaging your core, are you breathing - breathing totally easily? Try engaging in that form. Why? Because your transversus abdominus interweaves with the diaphragm, and the pelvic floor and diaphragm work together for full body breathing. Hold or force your breath, and you will not have core stability . . you will have rigidiity.

6. Adopt Relaxed Resilience. For every level of awareness we have, we have an opportunity to strengthen it, by going deeper. Ask yourself - where else can you be aware? In what other asanas can you experience ease? How deep can you go? Something to try - survey your asanas and discover where you are holding tension and purposefully attempt to be okay with the tension...truly okay. Then move in a tension free range of motion (see next principle). What do you now notice?

7. Move In Your Pain Free Range of Motion. This is the best principle ever. And it is the one that stumps (along with # 8) most people most of the time. Why? Because most people think pain is normal. What I am suggesting (because I see it everyday, and in every training that I teach), is that everyone can have reduced pain or have pain eliminated by moving in a pain free range of motion or in a range where their pain symptoms don't increase. Why does it work? Because you are sending different communications back to the nervous system, which in turn changes you physiologically. Try it's crazy and it works. It is mind blowing! Something to try - really and truly move in your pain free range of motion. See what happens.

8. Less Is More. Some would say that this is cliche and doesn't work...I am here to say that in every aspect of life it does. Both in my life and on the mat. Teachers who have trained extensively with me, will also agree. The idea is cultivating less effort to have the same result. It is about achieving a simple yoga asana before moving to a complex asana. Your body, your muscles and your brain will love you for it. Something to try - can you do the same asana with 5-15% less effort and still have the same result?

If you want more: Coming soon is the Online Biomechanics, Kinesiology and Anatomy training program. If you are interested in exploring these concepts with me as your guide for one month, you can click here and we will send you details when the program is launching. We'll send them soon.
Happy exploring!!

Sara's note: For more information on Susi and her teaching visit This article is taken from her September e-newsletter 2010.

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