How Constraints Lead to Better Movement

Over the past few months I have started to add more exploration to my training. I still have a program which I work off and I practice Ashtanga Yoga a few times a week but I’m finding more space for exploration.

What I find really interesting is exploring movements under constraints. An example of this is with the locomotive drill “the bear”. This is one of the fundamental movements in GMB but one of the parts of our ongoing study as trainers has been to explore the bear in as many different variations as you can. This involves moving in and out of the movement, turning, tumbling. The possibilities are endless as long as you stay in the bear.

Creative Constraints

On some occasions Picasso would limit his options to one colour to explore new artistic techniques. Apple have also used restrictions with their products. If you think of mobile phones before the iPhone. They had lots of display buttons. Steve Jobs reduced the iPhone down to one button. This completely changed how phones are built. This restriction resulted in a much more creative product and one that changed the market for ever.

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Constraints Move Us Into Discomfort

Last week I saw how I gravitate towards what is comfortable when I train. We all want mastery and control in movements. That’s the goal but there’s always a trap of staying in your comfort zone once you get there. At a workshop we were instructed to move on all fours across the room. What I realised after a few steps was my body wanted to repeat patterns that felt comfortable and in sync. I had to consciously stop and try and move differently to avoid this.

What all this does is it gives you a deeper toolbox. Your limitations grow smaller and smaller and your ability to move into other disciplines becomes easier. This is why dancers are so easy to coach new movements. They are used to exploring and learning new movements in their own training.

How to Add Constraints to your Practice

I like to use small time frames (5-10 minutes) and play with a new movements. Again if we use the bear as an example we can explore the position of the feet. So we can move with our toes only on the ground, then the inside of the feet, then the outside. We can try it with bent knees, straight legs, bent arms. Add hip twisting. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination.

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