In every corner of the world, fitness visionaries in the movement industry transform their specific philosophies and techniques into workouts, practices, classes and fitness experiences that inspire the movement artist in each of us. Here is a round-up of our favorite energizing moves from a variety of disciplines.
Discipline: Feldenkrais Method
Named after Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, an Israeli physicist and engineer, the Feldenkrais Method is based on our current understanding of the processes involved in learning movement skills. The Feldenkrais Method uses simple, gentle movement lessons to reorganize posture, flexibility, strength and coordination, and to relieve pain.
Movement: Pelvic Tilt Variations
Recline on your back with a neutral spine, relaxed head and neck, and arms resting at sides. Separate your feet to hip-width apart. Initiating with your breath and from the core, begin to alternate flexing and relaxing the spine. After a number of repetitions, cross one leg over the other and engage the inner thighs. Continue the tilts in this position, feeling the tension release in your hips. Change legs and repeat.
Philosophy: The way in which we organize ourselves internally impacts the physical experience. “Movement is life, life is a process. Improve the quality of the process and you improve the quality of life itself.” Moshe Feldenkrais
Discipline: Power Vinyasa Yoga
Vinyasa is the source of flow for many yogis worldwide, and the term translates to “arranging something in a special way” and also “to link with breath.” Popular styles include Ashtanga, Baptiste Yoga, Jivamukti, Power Yoga and Prana Flow – all of which could be considered Vinyasa-style yoga. It’s the sequencing and linking of movements together in a repetitive and rhythmic motion that is said to still the mind.
Movement: Vinyasa Flow Transition
This specific sequence of poses (Chaturanga to upward-facing dog to downward-facing dog) is commonly used to link sequencing throughout a Vinyasa yoga class. Start in downward-facing dog or an inverted V with your weight evenly rooted in your hands and feet. Drive off your feet and shift forward to high plank. Keep body strong and spine long as you lower to Chaturanga, shifting forward so your elbows stay close to the body and your shoulder blades are firmly anchored. Continue to press off your feet and lead with your sternum as you push forward and through to an upward-facing dog back-bend, driving your hips forward and lifting your chest to the ceiling. Keep your neck liberated and hips and thighs afloat. Articulate through your feet by rolling over your toes, and pull your hips back, swinging your body in one motion to return to the starting position of downward-facing dog.
Philosophy: Do not go with the flow; you are the flow. “Yoga is the practice of quieting the mind.” Patanjali
You can always count on kickboxing, whether it’s a cardio-kickboxing workout or a true impact-technique session, to deliver total-body results and a great sweat. This style of movement, based on centuries of work by disciplined martial artists, was made popular as a general fitness-conditioning practice by Billy Blanks’ Tae Bo program 20 years ago. MMA popularity continues to be fueled by MMA stars like Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor.
Movement: Standing Side Kick
Stand with your legs staggered and spread slightly wider than shoulder-width. Your kicking foot is in front. Hold your fists in front of your face. Lift your front knee into the “chamber position” in front of your chest and simultaneously rotate your standing-leg foot 180 degrees to face backward. Drive from your hips to straighten. Then, extend the chamber knee to kick with the blade of the foot, ensuring that you don’t lock out the knee. Instead, maintain a slight bend even when making contact. Return to the chamber position and place your foot back in ready stance.
Philosophy: Master one kick at a time. “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” Bruce Lee
Discipline: Corrective Exercise
Corrective exercise takes physical therapy into the gym. Best prescribed by an evidence-based health-care professional, the moves you could be given as part of a corrective exercise program are always specific to your body’s unique needs. Corrective exercise promotes a return to health by improving mobility, creating strength and relieving pain. Our constant habit of sitting and working on devices in front of us means we can almost universally consider our bodies in need of corrective exercise.
Movement: Seated Chest Stretch
Sit in a chair at the edge of your seat. Reach back to hold the back sides of the chair with both arms. Lift your chest and breathe deeply to release the tissues of your chest from the sternum out to the shoulders. Squeeze your back muscles to increase the stretch and practice rotating your arms forward and back to further hydrate the tissue at the shoulder.
Philosophy: Life happens; get back to it. “The highest ideal of cure is the speedy, gentle and enduring restoration of health.” Samuel Hahnemann
Discipline: Balance Training
Balance is everything, including your key to living a mobile life. Training for balance can happen anywhere, but we can also take a lesson from world-class movement artists who walk the tightrope. They often train on a tightrope set up about two feet off the ground, and this slackline gives them a chance to train dynamic balance, concentration and coordination without huge risks. If you spend time improving your balance, you are less likely to get injured and can develop proprioception and exceptional body control to help you with many activities.
Movement: Stationary Stand on the Slackline
Secure the slackline and step on. Work to remain stationary as you get accustomed to the maneuverability of the line. Practice using your entire body to engage and establish balance. Know that you will not be still, but instead will be moving toward stillness. Try to remain on the line as long as possible. If you don’t have access to a slackline, you can practice on parking curbs, but please be safe.
Philosophy: Balancing is a process, not a destination. “Life is a balance between rest and movement.” Osho
Meditation is as individualized and personalized as the person doing it, and it has powerful benefits, influencing you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Although it can seem tough, there are some starter meditation styles that train the mind to focus, whether on an idea, a sensation, a value or even your breath. The point is to develop your faculties of awareness and listening and to train your attention to focus.
Movement: Awareness Meditation
Sit up straight, spine tall, and make sure your body is hanging in a relaxed way from your spine. Release the muscles around your eyes and soften your face. Let go of your shoulders and hands and keep them in a comfortable position. Bring your breath to your attention as the center of your meditation. Notice the breath moving in and out, feel the coolness of it, the softness of it, the weight of the saliva on your tongue. Notice your belly moving, and notice if you have any tightness, perhaps in your back or knees. Just notice all of the sensations and as you receive them, name them. Don’t attach judgment to the sensations or try to fix them; just notice them and move back to the breath. Continue for three to five minutes, and gently return to your full awareness.
Philosophy: The stillness has much to reveal. “The thing about meditation is: you become more you.” David Lynch
Everyone can dance. We judge ourselves, but really, it has nothing to do with the dancing. Dance has always been a powerful medium – it wakes up our instinct, it stimulates our intuition, and it connects us to not only who we are, but also to whom others are, through self-expression and community. Physically, dance is one of the great movement arts, accessible for all, regardless of age or ability, and it moves the body in a whole and integrated way. The point of it is the expression and translation of energy into motion.
Movement: Dance Break
Just let it go. Clear the dishes, turn up the music and in the privacy of your kitchen, dance it out. No holding back, no one is watching. And if your kids or your dogs are watching, get them involved too. Move your whole body and enjoy every bit of it for one song – or five – and then go back to your day.
Philosophy: The next time someone asks, “So you think you can dance?” say yes!
Discipline: T’ai Chi and Chi Kung
Not very well-known in the Western world, T’ai Chi and Chi Kung/Qi Gong are ancient movement arts dedicated to increased well-being and vitality. T’ai means “tree of knowledge” and Qi (or chi) is the Chinese word for intrinsic energy, which in India, the yogis call prana. According to the ancient teachers, qi energy is a practice of balancing your life force. It’s a combination of movement with imagination, breath and postural work. Practices can be used almost anywhere and completed individually or as a whole sequence, for as little as five minutes a day or longer. The principles of T’ai Chi and Chi Kung or Qi Gong are easily integrated into daily routines such as working at a desk or after brushing teeth. The aim is to achieve a balance of energy and to increase vitality.
Movement: The Fountain Experience
Stand with heels together and your feet in a V-shape. Bring the backs of your hands together and lift your arms up slowly. When your arms reach shoulder height, bend your elbows and continue to raise your elbows as your hands curve over slightly behind your head. Let your elbows sink and open the arms out, extending the forearms up like petals opening until the arms are stretched out and your palms are open and facing the sky. Then, allow your arms to float down in slow motion. Repeat seven times, imagining and trusting that you are circulating the qi through you from the ground up to the sky.
Philosophy: Raise your vibration. “T’ai chi does not mean oriental wisdom or something exotic. It is the wisdom of your own senses, your own mind and body together as one process.” Chungliang Al Huang
Discipline: HIIT Training
High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a staple for many fitness programs. It’s designed for higher ROI and ROE (return on investment and return on energy) in a shorter period of time. HIIT has the reputation of being doable only by super-fit athletes, but the truth is that it can be adapted to most fitness levels. The goal is to work intelligently at your highest intensity for an interval of time, and then recover actively or repeat as prescribed. This is an excellent method for weight loss or for improving power and endurance, but it is not something you need to do every day. Instead, switch between different HIIT routines and types of movements to boost your metabolism, improve your cardio endurance and help yourself feel more confident about your abilities.
Movement: The Burpee
Stand with excellent posture, hands by your sides. Jump up into the air, land softly, then squat to place your hands on the floor at shoulder width. Jump your feet back to a plank position and perform a push-up. Jump your feet forward to your hands and spring back to standing. Repeat. If jumping back is challenging, then you can step back. And if the push-up is too challenging, modify it by placing your knees on the floor. Continue for 30 to 60 seconds, then rest and repeat.
Philosophy: Go for it! “The excellency of every art is its intensity, capable of making all disagreeable evaporate.” John Keats
Pilates provides a superb foundation for strength and flexibility and has six principles that make up the basis of the moves: breathing, centering, control, concentration, fluidity and precision. The Pilates method of body conditioning is intended to be a complete coordination of body, mind and spirit, which corrects posture, restores vitality and invigorates the mind through unique challenges — ultimately helping you to meet all the complex problems of modern living.
Movement: The Boomerang
This is an amazing Pilates move to strengthen the core and hips and to mobilize the spine. However, avoid this movement if you have neck or spine injuries. Begin seated, with your legs extended out in front of you, with your right ankle crossed over the left. Place hands flat, palms down, by your hips. Tense your leg muscles as you lift both legs off the mat and lean back toward the ground to a 90-degree angle, keeping the back of the forearms pressing firmly into the floor for stability and leverage. Open and close the legs, switching the cross of the ankles, and then with control, roll back down through the spine until your legs are 45 degrees from the floor and your arms are reaching out parallel with your legs. Move your hands behind you and clasp your hands, maintaining the legs in the air. Lift your arms up behind you as you lower the legs back down to the ground and then circle the arms to reach up and over to catch the ankles and lean forward into a stretch. Return to a tall, seated position and repeat four or five times.
Philosophy: Sound body, sound mind. “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.” Joseph Pilates
Barre is popular for a reason. Although it is often confused with ballet, barre is its own practice. Some barre classes incorporate ballet-inspired moves, but most barre classes mix elements of Pilates, dance, yoga and resistance training, set to music that directs the pace of the moves. Typically, barre classes emphasize the lower body, core and arms, focusing on small, targeted movements and high repetitions with the promise of giving participants a dancer’s body.
Movement: Arabesque Fly
Stand in first position with your left side to a barre or a chair, and hold a dumbbell in your right hand. Keep your posture strong and poised. Bend your knees and hinge from your hips to bring your torso forward, keeping your back lengthened. Stand on your right leg and lift your left leg behind you, keeping the knee straight and toes pointed, simultaneously lifting your right arm and weight up and to the side at shoulder height. Repeat eight to 12 times, then switch to the other side.
Philosophy: Raise the “barre.” “Most people fail in life not because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit.” Les Brown
Discipline: Conscious Movement
One of the great discoveries that continues to unfold is the power of the mind and our capacity to expand our understanding of what it means to be human. As we become more conscious in our bodies and practice that awareness in our movement, we’re empowered to integrate more health, peace, personal agency and spiritual connection into our life. One example of conscious movement is
Scott Sonnon’s Circular Strength Training® (CST) System, [http://www.rmaxi.com/cst] which is a fully integrated and progressive practice combining joint mobility, bodyweight movements and resistance via Clubbell® [http://www.clubbell.tv] swinging.
Movement: Clubbell Swings
Swings feel amazing. The goal is to create a smooth, fluid motion moving the Clubbell from side to side in an arc. Your arms remain locked, in order to generate the movement from rocking (forward and back) and swaying (right and left). Stand in ready position, holding the Clubbell weights or even a set of water bottles. Hold them in your hands as close to the ends as possible to create a long lever. Keep your shoulders anchored down and begin to fold at the hip. Keeping your back straight, sit back with your weight in your heels. Push the ground away and contract your core, legs and butt as you snap your hips and straighten the legs to a stand, allowing your locked arms to swing forward. Let your arms hang like weights and return toward the body, rock back and continue back and forth for 30 to 60 seconds, then take a break.
Philosophy: Wake your body up. “Action is movement with intelligence. The world is filled with movement. What the world needs is more conscious movement, more action.” B.K.S. Iyengar
Discipline: Bodyweight Training
A body moving well is breathtaking. Bodyweight training is the most accessible form of fitness for all: even walking and moving your body in space can become a full workout. There are a number of experts who have created a progressive training system to revitalize our movement. Check out the work of Mike Fitch, Global Bodyweight Training, Movement Culture with Ido Portal and our 24life partners at GMB for a step-by-step plan to get your body moving — and moving well.
The L-stand is a great handstand variation to help gain strength, mobility, endurance and confidence in your body. The goal is to create an L-shape with your body, with your hands on the floor and your feet flat up against a sturdy wall. To begin, [http://www.24life.com/the-essential-six] place your hands on the floor and anchor your feet against a wall with hips lifted into a short downward-facing dog position. Engage your core and walk your feet up the wall until your body forms an L-shape. Build your practice by starting slowly, with five to 10 seconds and six sets, and then add time in five-second intervals until you have achieved one minute.
Philosophy: There is always another level to learn. “Be happy with what you have while working for what you want.” Helen Keller
Discipline: Athletic Training
Everyone is an athlete. It’s an athletic endeavor just to move our bodies through life, to give birth, to run forward and to get back up when we fall down. And it takes more than a slogan to get conditioned, practice, commit and persevere through sensations that don’t always feel great. But small steps, repeated, often lead to big leaps.
Movement: Jump Rope
Jumping rope is a do-anywhere movement that serves ankle mobility, cardio endurance, coordination and postural strength. While it can be frustrating, start out by doing one-minute intervals to build up to a mastery of energy on the fly. Focus on keeping your shoulders and elbows quiet, and turn the rope at the wrist joint. When you land your jump over the rope, keep the knees soft with a light, low bounce. Remember to keep your posture and core engaged. Try not to quit, and eventually you’ll get it right.
Philosophy: Show up. Do the work. Rest. Repeat. “If you don’t practice, you don’t deserve to win.” Andre Agassi
Discipline: Hatha Yoga
There are a multitude of benefits of practicing yoga, including feeling more mindful and becoming more flexible. Yet, yoga is also a powerful medium for strength and for weight loss. Research has shown that as a result of a regular and consistent yoga practice, practitioners learn effective stress management, which reduces the likelihood of emotional eating. Practitioners are also known to develop increased body awareness, which will help with hunger and satiety.
Movement: Wheel Pose Urdhva Dhanurasana/Chakrasana
Wheel Pose Urdhva Dhanurasana/Chakrasana is a challenging pose, and therefore is not ideal if you have any major physical conditions or spinal injuries. Rest on your back, breathing freely, with your knees bent and feet as close as possible to your hips. Maintain your knee and hip-foot alignment as much as possible. Place your palms flat next to your head, fingertips pointing toward your feet. If this is a challenge, practice wrist mobility for a few weeks. Inhaling, lift your chin to balance on top of your head. Press down into the ground with your hands and raise your shoulders, chest, lower back and hips as high as you can while straightening your arms. Keep your breath free and lift your chest toward the ceiling, rocking on your feet to bring your shoulders in line with your wrists. Hold for a while, breathing normally. To release, slowly tuck your chin and lower your body progressively to the floor until it is relaxed on the ground. Work from holding for 60 seconds up to three minutes, gradually increasing time with practice.
Philosophy: Bend so you don’t break. “It doesn’t matter how deep into a posture you go, but what does matter is who you are when you get there.” Max Strom
Discipline: Suspension Training
Suspension training is a fitness staple continuing to gain in popularity. That’s because it’s a time-saving workout targeting the whole body. In this type of training, changing your body position in space impacts the resistance, complexity and intensity of a move. There are many suspension training options, including rings and suspension silks, but the most common tool used is TRX, which was originally designed for the American military to train in extreme conditions.
Movement: Suspended Hamstring Curl
Adjust and secure the TRX handles until they are floating six inches from the floor. Lie on your back and slip your heels through each TRX handle so that heels are cradled and the soles of your shoes are resting on the handles. Keep your arms alongside the body and keep your core engaged and torso stiff as you lift your hips off the floor. Stabilize your body to create a straight line from shoulders to heels. Contract your glutes and hamstrings to bend your knees, and pull your feet into your hips while you simultaneously bridge the hips toward the sky. Extend your legs and then lower your hips back to the ground. Repeat.
Philosophy: Turn upside down and take a new look. “One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.” Henry Miller
Discipline: Restorative Yoga
Taking time to relax and down-regulate your nervous system helps to alleviate chronic stress. Restorative yoga uses props for a completely supportive physical and emotional environment. The practice works carefully to move the spine in a gentle but sustained way, and gentle inversions are incorporated to reverse the effect of gravity on the lower extremities. This is very beneficial to the lymphatic and circulatory system, and this deep relaxation is said to reduce blood pressure and blood sugar levels, to increase good cholesterol and improve conditions across the spectrum, including digestion, muscle tension, fertility and insomnia.
Movement: Reclining Cobbler Pose
Recline on your back with your arms straight and palms facing up just slightly away from the body. Bend your knees with your feet touching, then allow your knees to fall open away from each other, keeping the pelvis stable and lower back lengthened. For restorative support, place a folded blanket, block or bolster under the thighs. And for extra soothing, add a cover for your eyes. Breathe and relax in this posture. To release, roll to your side and relax further before sitting up. To come out, take your hands and gently move your knees together.
Philosophy: Our greatest growth requires regeneration. “Rest and be thankful.” William Wadsworth
Mobility is one of the master keys for all performance and movement feats. Restrictions in your joints and range of motion contribute to faulty movement patterns, tense and stressed tissues, and eventually worn-out structures. Lack of mobility can be caused by many things, but especially by our failure to pay close attention and care for injuries and to overuse our bodies inappropriately. According to
Movement: Ankle Rock
Lack of ankle mobility caused by tight heel cords can cause massive problems in your ability to squat, move, run and jump. To address this and to create more range of motion, place the ball of your foot against a sturdy block or wall. With your heel on the ground, lean forward for leverage and rock your foot side to side as you bear down to create tension. If you’re able to, you can add resistance by using your other foot or a resistance band.
Philosophy: Use it or lose it. “Freedom means the opportunity to be what we never thought we would be.” Daniel Boorstin
Discipline: Indoor Cycling
It’s not easy to find high-intensity workouts that are low-impact and fun. That’s why indoor cycling, or spinning, has millions of people turning to this dynamic and entertaining workout on a stationary bike. With proper technique, there is very little impact on the hip, knee and ankle joints, especially if the rider keeps his or her resistance turned up and takes advantage of the full circular motion of the pedal stroke, allowing for flexion and extension.
Movement: Resistance Ladder
To get more out of your ride, you need to train with resistance on the wheel to improve your ability to climb. Practice building power with a resistance ladder, while staying light on the seat. Here’s how: On a scale of 1-10, add resistance that you perceive to be at a level of 5, and begin to ride. Ride for 30 seconds, then recover for 30 seconds, and then add one level of resistance (that is, increase to 6) and ride for 30 seconds, then recover for 30 seconds. Continue up the ladder as high as you can while maintaining your technique.
Philosophy: Give it your all. “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” Emma Goldman
Discipline: Yoga Therapy
Corrective education and yoga therapy combine for the ultimate partnership. And when you pair those disciplines with mindset and breath training, you create lasting change that is embodied in and out of the workout. Yoga therapy often combines dynamic movement and stillness and is responsive to the participant.
Movement: Half Happy Baby Minivini
Half Happy Baby Minivini, from Jill Miller’s program
Yoga Tune Up®, is a flow series known to have saved thousands of yogis from devastating hip pain and overuse syndrome, which can happen to those who make a living with this discipline. This pose liberates and stretches the entire hip as a dynamic unit, and thus prepares the body for more or additional poses, while leaving you feeling better. Recline on your back and bend your knee to grab and hold your heel. Keep your other leg anchored and grab the foot that’s in the air, pull your thigh down to the floor, and then pull the leg across the body, in a flowing motion to open the hip.
Philosophy: Spend time and listen to the body. “So this is how you swim inward. So this is how you flow outwards. So this is how you pray.” Mary Oliver
Discipline: Workout H20
Athletic prowess in water is a valuable fitness skill. Swimming offers full-body work, cardiovascular health, endurance, as well as cognition and coordination training. And skill and confidence in the water saves lives. Beyond swimming, there are many other workouts that you can do in the water including Aqua Zumba, water t’ai chi and water walking or running.
Movement: Water Walking
Water provides natural resistance, which is both soothing and challenging. Begin in a safe body of water, like a pool. Get in up to your waist and practice walking through the water swinging your arms as if walking in a rush on the land. Use your whole foot and not just your tiptoes, maintain excellent posture and keep your core engaged. For more resistance, move your hands and arms through the water using hand-webs or other aqua tools.
Philosophy: Jump in. “The cure for anything is salt water — sweat, tears or the sea.” Isak Dinesen
Discipline: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Mixed martial arts are empowering fitness systems that build self-esteem and self-reliance and can increase strength, stability, stamina, flexibility and explosive power. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is one type of martial art that teaches impressive ground-based training and stand-up maneuvers. It combines modified judo and traditional Japanese jiu-jitsu in one incredible core workout with total-body conditioning.
Movement: Shrimp Slide
Shrimping is basic movement in a Brazilian jiu-jitsu workout, which requires a lot of core work, especially if you are loaded with a plate or if you have an opponent to resist. This is the move that will propel you on the mat. The motion is a matter of alternating movement from your hips, then feet and shoulders. Begin on your back on the mat with one leg bent and one foot close to the hip, elbows held in as you begin to push off the bottom foot and leverage your chest to knees. Then, shift your bodyweight to the side and alternate rocking and pushing and leveraging side to side, as you move across the mat. Perform each move for 30 to 60 seconds in one direction with a rest before repeating. Build up to three minutes and perform two rounds.
Philosophy: Lay the groundwork. “When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” Paulo Coelho
Our ability to move around the world and see new sights is a treasure. There are many ways to work out, but the ones that leave your feet dirty and your lungs full of fresh air take your breath away.
Movement: Runner’s Lunge
Whether your legs have you running a race, hiking a hill or walking the block, they need a good pre- and post-stretch. Place the right foot forward and lower your hips toward the ground into a lunge, with fingers on the floor. Keep your breath free and extend your back leg straight. Return to the lunge and repeat before switching sides.
Philosophy: Go outside and play. “A desk is a dangerous place from which to see the world.” John Le Carré