Juliette Kando is a dancer, choreologist, author on fitness and health, and Fellow of the Benesh Institute at the Royal Academy of Dance.
Without basic knowledge and awareness of how you move in daily life, your physical and mental health may suffer unnecessarily from discomfort, chronic pains, and lethargy. Daily movement habits are often taken for granted and ignored yet they are as important if not more so than eating a healthy balanced diet and going to the gym.
The following eight techniques will hopefully give you some sensible food for thought—I’ll correct that phrase—moves for thought. Those eight movement techniques are inevitably interlinked. One cannot exist without all the others since they all affect each other.
- Movement Vocabulary
- Physical Games
- Relaxation and Meditation
So let us look at each good movement technique in more detail.
Balance is the collaboration of muscle groups to carry the body most efficiently against the constant downward pulling force of gravity. Without good balance, your muscular system is going to find it very difficult to carry you around. And if your muscular system fails, then all the other systems will suffer, including your emotions and your brainpower through sheer lack of comfort.
Posture is where your balance is most obviously at work, but not only in a standing posture. For the most economic use of your muscular system, a balanced posture is required at all times in all positions. Put it this way: Are you sitting comfortably right now? If you are uncomfortable, you are using unnecessary muscle force to maintain an unbalanced position. What is the solution? Check your current posture.
- Are you sitting correctly on your sitting bones?
- Are you leaning forward?
- One elbow on the desk might put your spine in a wanky sideways position?
In addition to constantly checking postural behavior, you can invent many physical games that challenge your balance. A few ideas are listed below.
Some Balancing Challenges
To a large extent, we rely on eyesight for balance.
- Turn the lights off and try to find some object or location in the dark.
- Walk down the stairs in the dark. But please be cautious, hold onto the railing at first. Do not hold me responsible for breaking your neck.
- Find the kettle in the kitchen with the lights off.
- Try to put your socks and shoes on standing on one leg with a straight back.
- Stand on one leg with your eyes closed.
- Play blind man's buff with your children.
- Use a Gravity Inversion Table (watch the video below).
Invent some other balancing challenges. Or even better, discover the subtleties of your body's balance on a Gravity Inversion Table as shown in the next video.
Balancing on a Gravity Inversion Table
How does the Gravity Inversion Table Work?
The above video clearly shows how the body balances around its center of gravity, the pelvic area. On a Gravity Inversion Table, you can become aware of the extreme subtlety of the body's balance. Hanging upside down, or semi-upside down on a Gravity Inversion Table provides gentle traction in the entire body to combat the constant downward pulling force of gravity on all the joints, the spine, neck, and shoulders.
Flexibility is the faculty of moving one’s joints to their natural movement range. Unfortunately, only a few people can achieve a natural movement range in the current age of obesity. A maximum natural movement range is defined by the shape and mobility of the joints in the skeleton. The length of the ligaments holding the bones together, and the length of the muscles that move the bones determine the range of movement. So stretching for flexibility involves lengthening tendons, ligaments and muscles to attain a wider movement range in the joints.
For example, if you never look at the stars, it hurts when you do. Why? Because short tendons, ligaments and muscles in the neck do not allow free, upward movement of the head. If you never stretch your neck upwards, then over time, the cervical curve becomes deeper (short neck) and the shape of the cervical vertebrae changes permanently, damaging disks, sometimes even fusing vertebrae together. Help! Test your own neck now with the exercise "yes", "no" and "maybe" on the next picture.
Flexibility Reduces Fat
The good news is that being flexible reduces fat. Why? Because if a lump of fat is in the way of a repeated stretch, as, for example, bending down to touch the floor with your hands, the stomach fat has to disappear, there just isn't any room for it, so it humbly retreats to get absorbed and rejected by the body. Try it daily for a couple of weeks and see the difference.
Permanent dilapidation from a lack of flexibility in the neck, shoulders, spine, hips, knees and ankles occurs not only in one person’s lifetime. Over many generations, many centuries and millennia, the change becomes very clear. It’s called evolution. By changing its movement habits, the present human skeleton evolved from apelike creatures to its present-day shape. You can choose which way you want to evolve. Grow tall and straight by staying flexible and balanced.
Flexibility for Posture and Comfort
Flexibility in the neck, for example, facilitates holding your head in the correct central position above the spine. Flexibility in the hip joint allows the pelvis to be placed correctly in standing and walking. Sitting on the floor rather than on a chair challenges the hip and knee joints. In short, flexibility leads to greater agility and comfort. Invent a comfortable position that challenges your flexibility.
Good Idea: Put one foot on top of your desk right now maybe? Or checkout the link at the end on how to use a floor desk, you won't regret it.
Endurance gives power, strength and stamina and is achieved by aiming to surpass one’s previous limits. OK, it’s a bit “strenuous” but well worth adding to the fitness menu. Exerting oneself once a day like running up the stairs, or catching a bus, or digging a hole in the garden to plant a tree, gives the heart and lungs the necessary boost to keep those two vital organs functioning to full capacity. Endurance is often forgotten with aging, but this is a mistake. Some kind of aerobic activity is necessary on a daily basis to keep the body engine running smoothly. Five or ten minutes of walking, running or any other aerobic activity is enough but must be kept up at any age.
Good Idea: Next time don’t take the lift for a couple of floors/flights. Run upstairs instead.
4. Movement Vocabulary
What is Movement Vocabulary? Movement Vocabulary is the number of moves available at one's disposal for physical activity and expression. Good alignment, posture, flexibility, balance, coordination, agility, grace, strength, and timing all help to increase movement vocabulary. You could compare the moves in a person's body language to the vocabulary of speech.
Rich Movement Vocabulary
Being an extortionist does not necessarily make you a good mover, with a rich movement vocabulary. A rich movement vocabulary (being comfortable with a large number of positions and movements) not only gives diversity in physical activity and expression, but it also takes the burden off a few muscles to share out the daily load between many more muscles. The more diverse your movements are, the more efficient your movement behavior i.e. a person with a rich movement vocabulary can do more with less effort.
5. Physical Games: New Games
“New Games” is a movement that organises non-competitive physical group games in outdoor environments. Over 200 people can play in the parks of great cities like London, New York, Sidney and Tokyo. In today’s sex-dominated society physical games for adults other than competitive sport have almost become taboo or at best get labelled as "hippie". It’s a great shame and let us hope for a revival of the great "New Games" trend that started in the seventies.
Meanwhile, we can still play ball on the beach, make each other fall off the lilo into the wild waves of a warm ocean, or roll down a soft grass hill to loosen every bone in the body. Real fun family games in an outdoor environment by far beat Nintendo, Wii Fit boards or any gym. Maybe you can play non-sexual physical games with your spouse? That will be the day! Explain it to them and try, perhaps as extended foreplay?
There is no need to pay a shrink hundreds of dollars a week to keep a healthy mood and mind. Dancing is a means of releasing deep-seated tension in the body through improvisation. Improvisation comes from the gut, from the core. You do not think about relationship problems or shopping bills when you are truly into dancing. But, here again, if you are stiff, out of shape, or generally immobile, then your body is poorly equipped to release its most deep-seated tensions or express its feelings and emotions. So the more you dance the better, as long as you take the courage to try out new moves.
Some people dance like robotized automatons and I often wonder; don’t they get bored doing the same moves over and over? Dancing is great, you can do it to the radio in the kitchen while waiting for the kettle to boil. Your body tells you exactly which moves it needs to do to get back into shape. Listen to your body, trust it. Go on, put some music on, have a break from the computer. Dance, lift those arms up high; can you reach the ceiling? Focus upwards and backward.
Watch this great video as an example of how the Lindy Hoppers don't "pose"; how they don't care what they look like or if they fall over. Instead, they go for the sheer challenge and risk-taking of the dance itself. And see how much they enjoy it. Can you see Groucho Marx in the background?
7. Relaxation and Meditation
When all the dancing and working is done you need to rest. But resting is not just sitting on a chair or a sofa watching TV. Resting means horizontal on your back, with your eyes closed. With conscious breathing follow the patterns in your mind until you transcend into a more quiet place where normal thinking is suspended.
Now there is room for a completely different activity in your mind—meditation they call it. A person who knows how to meditate never suffers from insomnia. Maybe try going to sleep without TV hypnosis?
How do you wake up in the morning? Are you glad to be awake, ready, and keen for another day in your life? I leave that one for you to answer honestly. And then think about what you can change to wake up well-rested, alert, and happy.
Ideally, if you can sleep in a dark room with an open window in complete silence, you should wake up like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis and ready to fly.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on November 08, 2011:
Hello Injured Lamb,
Thank you for reading. Your nick name and avatar imply great sensitivity, so yes, keep on dancing. You might also like to read my hub "Shall We Dance For A Better World?".
Injured lamb on November 08, 2011:
I love dancing very much, and you are so right that we don't have to think about problems or shopping lists when we are truly into dancing...thanks for the useful sharing Sue, much appreciated.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on November 07, 2011:
Thank you for your approval Marty.
That is exactly my intention Bridget. It is nice to see that my methods work for people. Thank you for dropping by.
Bridget on November 06, 2011:
Thank you for this useful article Sue. I like your hubs because they speak common sense that everybody can understand. Then it is encouraging to attempt the exercises.
martytheredking from Lancashire on August 14, 2011:
Excellent Hub Sue, as a full on gym freak I couldn't agree more.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on April 26, 2011:
You are welcome barbergirl, you can be your own personal trainer anytime, almost full time, I mean it can become second nature. Just don't be too obsessive about it.
Stacy Harris from Hemet, Ca on March 11, 2011:
This is some great information. Thanks for sharing and outlining the tools we need to be our own personal trainer!
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on December 21, 2010:
Thank you for comment. I had a look at your website. Good work, although I am not really into machines, except for the gravity inversion table that allows you to hang upside-down.
fadibody on December 21, 2010:
Very well said. Health is the most important thing other than anything else in the world. I have noticed that most people tend to forget about fitness and health these days. people nowadays are leading a sedentary way of life. So, your hub is much informative and essential. Keep it up!
By the way, I am also an Atlanta Personal Trainer and I would like you to take a look at my site http://www.bodybyfadi.com/ See how well it can boost your health and your individual appearance, most importantly your self-esteem.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on January 09, 2010:
Yes, Princessa, dancing is great for two reasons. When you get really into it, dancing can take over completely and then you get into a trance, another level of consciousness whereby the activity feeds those rarely used alpha waves in the brain in addition to moving your body in new and unexpected ways.
Wendy Iturrizaga from France on January 08, 2010:
Great hub, I liked it and you have my thumbs up!
Dancing is one of my favourite excercises because I do it without thinking. I don't even get tired when I am dancing and can go on non stop for hours.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on January 08, 2010:
Yes Advoco, unless we stay clear of meatballs we might turn into one? Haha! Jai and Alekhouse thanks for reading. Glad to help.
Jai Warren from Dallas, Deep Ellum, Texas on January 08, 2010:
Our bodies are functioning and burning calories every second of every day. Your personal fitness is determined by how you exert your muscles and what foods we use to fuel those organs. Plain and simple! Very good information Sue. If we would just get up and get moving a little every day the obesity problem would be non-existent.
Nancy Hinchliff from Essex Junction, Vermont on January 08, 2010:
...a really good hub with lots of good information. Thanks.
advoco from cadiz on January 08, 2010:
A very good hub containing much wit and wisdom (I loved the meatballs phrase). I began opening my eyes to the food industry a long time ago and realised that anything pre-prepared, processed or packaged is best to be avoided. If you start looking at the labels and thinking about fat, sugar, salt and additives you will see that its best to prepare your own food from basic ingredients. A bit of effort but much more rewarding. As for exercise I take on board what you are saying - build exercise into your life rather than focus on one particular activity. Thanks