Intuitive Movement Collection

Over the last years I have spent a considerable amount of time researching and studying different forms of intuitive movement and how we can find healing and authenticity while doing so. In this post I share a collection of exercises that could help tapping into your physical intuition.

Kneading the dough.

 

Knead yourself into suppleness.

Work the floor and massage yourself.

Bring every cell and fiber of yourself to live and sooth your mind.

 

Or something like that. Just try it.

Play your favorite song and get going.

 

Kneadingly,

Nil

A Physical Practice of Letting Go

 

In this Video I want to present to you something I call „a physical practice of letting go“.

It is an open exercise without a clear goal.

The Intention is to physically and through that also mentally let go. What you let go you will find out hopefully. You can also set an intention what you want to let go.

 

I use shaking, clapping, my voice, music and my breath to facilitate that letting go experience.

When you try this, please see for yourself what feels good and what enhances this feeling for you.

After this practice I highly recommend to sit/stand/lie still for a few minutes.

Try to feel the resonance of the exercise and observe yourself without judging.

 

Are there any feelings, sensations, emotions, thoughts arising?

Don’t focus too much on them, let them come and go.

 

And then you continue with your day.

An Intuitive Approach to Movement, Wellbeing and Mobility

 

In this video I present to you a personal take on approaching Movement, Wellbeing and Mobility from an intuitive standpoint.

 

While I absolutely see the value of learning techniques/patterns (squats, lunges, kossacks, just to name three out of probably hundreds of thousands of named patterns) I also see the lack of awareness of individual needs.

When I ask students to warmup for themselves or approach tightness in their bodies I usually see them automatically using fixed patterns that they have learned before and done many times already INSTEAD of firstly sensing how the body feels in that moment and what it could need right now.

 

Through this video I want to offer a simple approach that relies more on FEELING your body first and moving in a way that actually takes your individuality into consideration.

When and how you use this information is up to you.

 

I propose this makes a very good morning routine, warmup, routine for when you feel tight and achy, ..

One-squaremeter-suppleness

Not much room nor equipment needed for some basic body check/maintenance.
What looks like some weird dance is actually my preferred way of doing non-specific-whole-body-out-of-alignment-3D-organic-multiangular-mobility-strengthening-conditioning!

Put one one or two nice songs and get moving – the feels afterwards and whilst doing are worth the weird looks you get.

Getting back on Track after a Pause/Injury

You just had a longer Pause from Training and want to get back into it? Here are 7 Tips, that I always follow, when I get back into Training!

 

Tip 1: Ask yourself why you paused/stopped.

Was it because injury? You didn’t enjoy training anymore? Life just happened?
After you reflected on this question, make sure to structure your physical practice so it will be enjoyable for longer, minimize risk for Injury and let room for life – allow your structure to be loose from time to time.

 

Tip 2: Start slow.

An obvious one, but still: too many people just throw theirselves in there after not having been doing anything. This often results in injury, overuse or simply too much stress for the body.
Starting slow could mean anything from reducing the volume (reps, sets, days per week), the intensity (max heart rate, weight, speed) or even the focus of your session. Instead of going straight back to your normal elements – whichever they are – start with super simple exercises so your body has time to adapt to physical activity.
Of course, if you have been training for a long time, the initial adaptation phase will get shorter and you’ll find it easier to get back on track. But also if you are very advanced: take it slow.

 

Tip 3: MINIMIZE

When starting out training/physical activity again, try to minimize your training at first.
That means, instead of fallowing a super long and varied training schedule, reduce your program to the bare minimum: less exercises, less equipment, reduced sets/reps, fewer complicated exercises.
While I would normally advise you to play with many different moves and vary your training quite a bit, I think there is huge value in having a reduced schedule for the sake of simplicity.
After not training for a long time, your body simply needs time to adapt, therefore don’t bombardize it with too many stimuli. On the other hand, you also have to adapt to making training a habit again. Too much variables make it very hard to build habits in the first place. Therefore reduce your Training, make it easier and minimize at first.

 

Tip 4: CONSISTENCY IS KEY

Over time, when you are being consistent with something it will turn into a habit. Brushing teeth won’t have any effects if you just do it once. Only when you consistently brush your teeth it is actually long lasting and helpful. Also, what at first might me a pain in the ass (the first cold showers you take) will turn out being just normal or even super fun. The power of habits it is.
So if you’re restarting your training, make sure to take little actions each and every day. Whatever it is, even just some push-ups, do it, build habits and work consistently. On the other hand, don’t Stress out when you need to skip a session, no worries at all. One burger won’t make you fat, one salad won’t make you healthy.

 

Tip 5: Surround yourself with people that are on the same road as you.

Training alone certainly has some benefits. You are very independent, can train whenever you like and need to build more discipline in order to push when it’s not fun anymore.
On the other hand, if you train/move/play with a buddy you both can have an eye on each other, detect when it’s time to rest or push when it’s needed.
It’s no secret that your performance will go way up when you’re training with company. More so, when you train with someone who is on the same road as you are with a similar level. Or even better: surround yourself with people that are better than you – they will pull you to other spheres. But then also surround yourself with people whom you can help and show the way, much to learn here, too.

 

Tip 6: Set yourself realistic goals

Setting realistic goals will help you to track your progress, see whether your training gave you the results you wanted and help motivate you.
First, set short term goals like „achieving a 60 second hang in 2 weeks“. This goal can easily be tackled – it’s clear and there is a specific task. Short term goals will be the stepping stones toward your big goal.
Medium term goals like „Super slow negative pull-up in one month from now“ will basically be – like short term goals stepping stones that will track your progress and show you where you are and how fare you’ve come until now. Also, depending if you reach your short and midterm goals, setting new long term goals may or may not make sense.
Long term goals like „3 pull-ups by end of March“ should be set realistically, very specific and time dependent.

 

Tip 7: ASK FOR HELP / GUIDANCE

If you are looking for guidance after a longer pause, simply ask a coach7teacher that you resonate with. Different coaches work in different ways, surely there is no right or wrong, so choose one who you intuitively trust.

Here are a few exercises which I like to use when getting back on track. The moves aim to mobilize and strengthen the body in great and diverse ranges.

Exercise 1: ONE ARM TABLE LSIT COMBO

 

I really like this exercise for many reasons. First, it is a really nice shoulder stabilization movement, posterior chain engager and compression exercise. Second, it is a very nice preparation exercise for many dynamic movements in the acrobatics/gymnastics/dance world.
Depending on your level of mobility you can twist into a full back bridge or just reach as far back as possible.

Exercise 2: COSSACK SQUAT LUNGE COMBO

 

Talking lower body, this one is a multi talent. When working with the cossack squat, hip mobility, especially adductor flexibility and ankle range of motion will benefit quite a bit. When rotating into the deep lunge, your anterior hip (psoas and quad) as well as glutes and hamstrings on the other side will need to lengthen over time. If you load this exercise, you can gain serious legstrength in multiple planes of motion. Perfect for any kind of acro, martial arts, parkour, dance or athletic practice.

Exercise 3: SCAPULA PULL-UPS

 

I really like this exercise for many reasons. First, it is a really nice shoulder stabilization movement, warm up for any shoulder training and an absolute strength builder for any kind of pulling strength.
There is room for many variations with this movement: using only one arm, pulling up only in frontal plane, leaning back, twist into it, etc.

At first you might feel that your range is limited, but soon it will increase. With this also your ability to pull will start to increase, all pulling movements will feel easier and more coordinated.

Exercise 4: PISTOL SQUAT SCALE COMBINATION

 

Lower body strength, stability, mobility and coordination – all in this one.
The pistol or fisherman’s squat are very nice to work actively on ankle mobility and will develop your quads and glutes (extensor chain) which will help you build strength in explosive movements.
The scale will develop your hamstring muscles and all these little hip stabilizers.

If you want to work on unstable knees/hips/ankles this one is for you! Give it some slow and controlled reps and gain stability.

Exercise 5: Squat with unilateral press and mill

 

Lower body strength, stability, mobility and coordination – all in this one.
Also, because of raising one arm overhead you’ll work on thoracic extension and rotation. Hello overhead mobility.
Start with a small weight and work your way up from here.
If it seems to hard, simply drop one knee to the floor and keep going like this! If you’re looking for one exercise to integrate in your day, it’s this one!

If you want to work on unstable knees/hips/ankles this one is for you! Give it some slow and controlled reps and gain stability.

Softness vs. Hardness – Polarities

Polarities exist not only in nature (day-night, silence-noise, high tide-low tide) but are prominent in our own personal behavior (team player-lonely wolf, introvert-extrovert, happiness-sadness) or in our daily lives (wake-sleep, work-rest, standing still-running).

 

While in nature polarities will take turns automatically and we perceive this as „normal“ we (I included) often limit ourselves to only act out or focus on only one side of the equation. As I transport my messages on a movement level on this channel I will do do now as well. Please notice that this concept is potentially fitting to many other areas of your personal live as well. When working out, some like to focus on strength – while neglecting flexibility. Others like getting bendy without working on strength and stability.

 

It is absolutely fine to enjoy one side a bit more, the body benefits greatly from working on both ends though. While we perceive strength and flexibility as separate and polar, they will form a unity in the end, when we actually work on both.

 

And that’s the thing in my opinion: First of, you can’t really separate both sides from each other in the long run. Only work out and your body will crash. Secondly, separating both and only working in one direction will only bring you this far. Both sides actually support each other.

 

By working on flexibility you create a base for strengthening your structures in an adequate way (talking full ROM here) – by strengthening your structures in this range you will create a stable joint. The circle continues!

 

I can only recommend to reflect about this for a bit. Where do you work on only one side of the equation? On purpose? Is it beneficial for you right now?

At the moment (2018) I have put my focus on two directions of movement:

 

– Bouldering and everything that goes with it (strength, power, hardness)

– acrobatic ground movements (cutting, loosening, flow, relaxation).

 

I believe that a movement practice should have an “all-out” character on one side, and a “relaxation” character on the other.

 

Full throttle all day at work, then into sport and continuing all-out in Crossfit, bouldering, Freeletics, martial arts etc. – there is a lack of relaxation. My own experience is that Crossfit 5 times a week for 3-4 years is simply quite a lot and exhausting. You can do it for a while, but at some point it becomes too much (at least for me). It’s not for nothing that most of the elite athletes do a compensatory sport like yoga, tai chi or go to the sauna, a massage or a physiotherapist.

 

If you want to step on the gas, you have to be able to switch back.

Since I’m currently bouldering 3 times a week, working a lot on specific strength and hardness, which puts a lot of strain on my muscles and joints, I NEED a balance. Something that lets my body relax again, loosens my muscles, mobilises my joints and calms me down mentally.

My acrobatics practice fits very well here at the moment: lots of rolling movements that massage the muscles, loosening up, creative movements – completely according to feeling and no thoughts of performance.

 

I notice that bouldering makes me “rigid”, acrobatics compensates for that here. Add to that sauna once a week and work with acupressure mats etc. and the body feels much more balanced.

 

Does this mean you should integrate acrobatic movements into your training? YES: of course you can. Correctly dosed and guided, they may very well be a super balance, but they don’t have to be!

 

Whether you go to yoga, press the sauna bench, let yourself pass through, swim slow lanes, etc., you can do it. – The main thing is to find a balance for the STRENGTH and HARDNESS!

How much Mobility do you need?

“How much mobility do I need?”

As is often the case, there is no “one-size-fits-all solution”, it depends on several factors:

– your goals (if you want to be able to do the splits, you will need to put a bit more time into mobility training)

– your body type/ the nature of your tissues (person A: constantly tense, hardened tissues, difficult to relax -> focus on mobility training and relaxation measures | person B: very soft tissues, hypermobile joints, instabilities -> focus more on stability and strengthening training)

– Your daily movements (daily movements (work, household, …) should take place without great resistance and evasive movements)

– your training/movement requirements (different disciplines require different levels of mobility: gymnasts need a higher level of mobility than, for example, pure powerlifters (bench press, deadlift, squat) or golfers because of the elements determined by mobility).

In general, mobility does not have to be MAXIMISED, but rather OPTIMISED (on other conditions mentioned above).

Nil

 

Basics Basics Basics – Creating a Solid Foundation

Today it’s all about the basics. Basics. Basics.

 

I hope you can find a few minutes to read this text. The following is the BASICS of my philosophy – the base of the pyramid – the foundation on which everything stands!

 

I start with this: Every day thousands of videos are posted on social networks like Facebook, Instagram and co. (I mean videos specifically about movement), which often show the limits of human abilities and skills (acrobatic artists, CrossFit elite, martial arts legends, etc.). You watch these videos and let yourself be carried away and inspired. I’m not excluding myself here, by the way. I also post videos that show special skills or similar – often at a very advanced level. Such videos bring reach. Sometimes – and this is what I like to hear the most – they also inspire other people to move more themselves or to become more body-conscious in general. Great at first.
HERE is where it starts to get exciting. I very often see that these people then go to sports courses, undergo boot camps, jog daily etc. and are surprised that their joints hurt, for example. “Probably sore muscles” or “It has to be like that, you have to feel sport!” – until it doesn’t go away or serious problems arise. WHAT IS MISSING?

 

The basics.

 

 

Your body can do so much. Or: your body could do so much. Because what it can do well is adapt. Being inactive for hours every day, not moving or stressing the joints, posture (or rather poor posture) – THAT leaves its mark. Your body adapts to this – it becomes resistant to stress. If you go to demanding courses, etc. in this way, your body will also show you this (see above) …
On a side note, we live in a time where performance is paramount (maximum weight, time, being the best, etc.), which exacerbates this phenomenon. I know too many my age who are at the END of their sporting careers – usually due to injury!

 

WHAT TO DO? Preferably no sport? No more exercise at all?
Not like that either.
But if you want to stay functional in the long term, you should take care of the basic functions of your body. This is not as exciting as lifting weights, acrobatics or gymnastics – but it is necessary.

 

That’s why I created the BULLETPROOF BODY series. Wrist, ankle, hip, spine and now shoulders. Simple exercises to prepare your joints for movement, applicable daily.
Your body will thank you!

 

Reawaken Your Feet

 

In our modern world, shoes with thick soles, insoles and the like have become almost standard. Often sleep is the only time when shoes are not worn. 
What is problematic about this?
Among other things: 

 

– Passive support structures (e.g. the reinforced heel part of the shoe) cause atrophy of the muscles that should actually do the supporting work.
– resulting postural weaknesses or even damage, such as a collapsed arch (which, by the way, can affect the entire statics/posture and lead to pain)
– Insufficient ventilation of the feet (bacteria love that…)
– Saponified ankle joints/ lack of mobility/ instability/ loss of coordination/ …..

 

It’s actually quite simple: take off your shoes more often and walk barefoot (you don’t have to go to work barefoot, it’s enough to say take off your shoes and socks at home). 

 

The exercises in the video are meant to help you wake up your feet, build up the muscles that support your feet and ankles, improve the coordination of your feet and relieve stiffness/”shortening”.

 

 

While you can do these exercises daily, two to three times a week is usually enough.

 

 

Wrist Routine

 

This article is in addition to my video to give a little more insight into my wrist routine. I use this sequence to either warm up before a wrist and finger workout or as an extra session to specifically work on my strength and flexibility.

 

The routine is really suitable for anyone who puts stress on their wrist – in sport or everyday life – and is therefore looking for exercises that specifically address this issue.
So if you are a gymnast, weight lifter, acrobat, crossfit athlete, dancer, climber, hand balancer, etc. – try it out and see what benefits you feel when you incorporate this routine into your training.

 

 

 

Try this routine and see how strong, mobile and stable your wrist becomes! If you really have problems, you can use this routine to warm up before each of your workouts. For serious problems, please consult your doctor beforehand!

 

Free your Hips

 

More specifically, the exercises aim to increase the ACTIVE range of motion. 

 

In general, a distinction is made between an anatomical (through passive movement = “stretching”) and a physiological (through active movement = muscle work) movement limit of a joint, whereby the anatomical movement limit is greater. However, increasing the physiological movement limit (through active movement) is necessary for very many movements (e.g.: kick in martial arts, many elements in gymnastics).
More about this in my articles on flexibility.

 

As these exercises are indeed somewhat strenuous and very tiring for the working muscles I would recommend for a start:
2-4 rounds with about 20 seconds of working time while warmed up. If an exercise is too difficult, try holding on to something or supporting yourself on the floor. 

 

Free Your Hips Level 1:

 

 

 

Free Your Hips Level 2:

 

 

 

Free Your Hips Level 3:

 

 

Incorporate these exercises into your training more often and you will notice how quickly active mobility will improve!

 

 

Bulletproof Shoulders

 

The shoulder joint is a joint that is mainly muscularly secured – it has to be, because the glenoid cavity is much smaller than the condyle of the humerus.
This fact allows a very large freedom of movement of the joint – but also an increased risk of injury.

 

Many people can relate to this: Restricted movement, a little twinge here and there, a slight pull there. Then it’s often “impingement”, “frozen shoulder” and often: sports break.

 

To prevent this from happening in the first place, I recommend preventive exercises to strengthen/mobilise the shoulder joint (especially for sports/everyday/work movements with a high shoulder load).

 

!!! DISCLAIMER: If you have problems with your shoulder, the exercises CAN help, but they can also make the problems WORSE. Common sense is needed here: start very slowly and carefully and clarify beforehand which movements you should better leave for the time being. !!!

 

Keypoints:

– Work in the higher repetition range
– Mechanics and execution before weight
– before training session to activate / after training session to strengthen
– if in doubt, get help from trainer

 

 

Another four of my favorite exercises.

 

 

 

You are as Old as your Spine

 

In this part of the series I show you very simple movements that you can do anytime and anywhere to loosen up your spine and the muscles around it.

Often the muscles of the spine are loaded on one side, namely in a stabilising position. Keep your back straight UNDER ALL CIRCUMSTANCES! Although this is important under high loads/in many situations to protect our intervertebral discs/spinal cord/nerves/vertebral bodies, the spine should also be moved!

 
The spinal column consists of 24 free vertebrae, between each vertebra sits an intervertebral disc, which, among other things, distributes the pressure acting on the vertebral bodies. Each vertebra is equipped with joint surfaces and thus allows movement between the individual segments. Optimally, each vertebral joint participates, for example, in a flexion of the spine, which distributes the pressure evenly over the vertebrae, or the intervertebral discs.
 
If your spine has become stiff in some places due to non-movement or one-sided loading, i.e. if several vertebrae move as a unit instead of individually as intended, the forces are no longer distributed proportionally, but are higher on some vertebrae and their intervertebral discs than on others.
Back problems caused by this are not uncommon.

 

You can do the exercises all at once or put together a selection for yourself to do before your workout, as a warm-up, as a cool-down, after getting up, etc.

 

 

 

Some freeform spinal movements.

 

 

Susan Harper of Continuum Movement with a demonstration showing how fluid and smooth spinal movement can be …

 

 

 

On that note: Stay Loose!!

Nil