Agility is balance in motion. Every day situations require us to be agile, getting in and out of cars, walking up and down steps, navigate crowds. Agility not only relies on strength, flexibility and balance but also on good postural reflexes. These reflexes kick in automatically to balance the orientation of your body in motion. Our postural reflexes develop as infants from lying to rolling, sitting to crawling, crawling to standing, standing to walking. At first a lot of co-ordination is needed, but over time these responses become subconscious and reflexive.
There's a lot going on in this process.
Our vestibular system through the inner ear canals send information to the brain in relation to our body's response to gravity. Our eyes feed information to the brain about our position in space relative to other objects and our environment, including depth, velocity and motion.
Our somatic sensory system helps your brain to make co-ordinated responsive movements and requires us to use:
- proprioception (knowing where you are in space)
- exterocetpion ( responding to our environment, bumpy paths, steps etc)
- interoception (an interior sense of how it feels in the body)
These three qualities allow us to maintain our balance in movement .
Yoga is invaluable in all of these processes though it slow dynamic and static postures helping cultivate our somatic nervous systems and postural reflexes (which can diminish as we age).
Try these balancing movements:
- test your balance by standing with one foot directly in front of the other heel to toe
- stand on one leg and use your other leg to mark out a clock face around you going as far round to 5pm or 7pm on your clock face as you can manage
- stand on one leg and bend the other, then take the knee out to the side and back a few times, then try taking the leg from forward extending the leg straight to the back (you can challenge yourself even more by standing on a brick)
- place a brick between your ankles as you rise to the balls of your feet and lower down
- find as many ways as possible to get up and down from the floor with legs in different positions and maybe without using your hands