Definitions in fitness and wellbeing are funny. People get terribly precious about the origins of certain moves, whether they really come from Yoga, or Pilates, or the So and So Method or whether someone owns or invented an exercise.
Yoga can lay claim to an awful lot, simply by virtue of its longevity – there are many claims and theories which I am woefully unqualified to weigh in on, regarding ‘How Old is Yoga?’ but, well it’s really old. Its been around a very long time in many and ever-more forms. The exercises, stretches and movements incorporated into many programs (definitely in mine), the breathing and relaxation exercises… many may be recognised as slightly tweaked or adapted forms of Yoga Asanas
But you really don’t need to be ‘Into Yoga’. In order to follow a holistic program of health, recovery and wellness… you don’t have to do the ‘Woo Woo’ bits if you don’t want to. Just because there are elements of one practice or discipline, it doesn’t mean you can’t pick and choose, or even that you shouldn’t adapt and change to suit your needs and lifestyle.
For example, you will find a variation of a Squat in pretty much every exercise discipline from ancient Yoga to 21st century Bootcamp – all versions of this vital primitive, natural and highly functional movement that humans have been doing since Paleo times.
Core strengthening twists, holds, lifts, pulls and balances are fundamental natural human movements, turned into modern-day ‘exercise routines’ we can follow and practice. We need such instruction, due to the thorough UN-naturalness of our movements in modern times. We don’t walk enough and when we do walk it tends to be in a way and in shoes that throw our alignment, our entire biomechanics, away from what is optimal. We have minimal upper body strength, we don’t squat to bathroom or birth, we sit too much, eat artificial food and our idea of exercise is an intensive hour in the gym in the midst of a day that otherwise consists entirely of sitting. (More on why ‘exercise’ doesn’t always count as adequate ‘movement’ here). The consequence of this lack of natural movement and nutrition are bodies which do not function as well as as they should, and so we need a little help.
Stretching, daily walking in correct alignment, squatting regularly, the importance of rest as well as healthy, supple, strong fascia and muscles, eating food that hydrates, nourishes and heals, awareness and mindfulness of core function and alignment of the entire body… these are principles that few advocates of any health or fitness discipline would dispute.
I’m honoured and humbled to learn from great teachers both ancient and modern. Mind, body, spirit… biomechanics, alignment, meditation, movement, the importance of rest and lowering stress, the fascinating and powerful influence of hormones, the modern science of nutrition alongside centuries-old knowledge of herbs and plants… the list goes on and on and nobody owns it, but we can all learn and we can all contribute.
Oh and we can make up words too – like MUTU. I made that one up over a glass of wine with my Mum, out of the words Mummy and Tummy. And then I trademarked it. It represents a philosophy, a secure, useful, practical and nurturing community of women. It represents strength and health and an empowering knowledge of our bodies, and it is the result of the pulling-together of many years of study from great teachers and working with hundreds and hundreds of women so we know it works.
But I definitely didn’t invent the Squat.