Erwan LeCorre

My 20 Favorite Moments from Season One (Part 2)

56237885_1824693367_zMore! More! So many more jewels! I won’t bore you with an intro- you get the idea. I am sharing my favorite 20 moments from season one- courtesy of these gorgeous people who shared their wisdom with all of us. Part one of that post (with 1 through 10) is here. Other learnings from season one are here. And... 11 through 20 is…. Here! 11. Dissociation, or a limited/confused body map, is often the root cause of pain. Steve Haines: “The sense of being outside of our body is a common theme actually... people don’t know that there is this much richer experience of the body. It’s really not a given. People with pain commonly have more of this kind of dissociation. Dissociation comes first likely due to the responses to being overwhelmed..Dissociation is a last ditch survival strategy, and often the root cause of more pain.

Your brain is expecting you to have a body, so if we’re beginning to cut ourselves off from that, if we’re flooding bits of the spinal cord with endorphins to limit the incoming signals, then you’ve got a big absence. And the absence of something when your brain is expecting it to be there is a threat. It may be that we fill that absence with pain to say, ‘Do something about this.’”

12. “We are an under-grieved society” Oof. When Judith Hanson Lasater said this to me it just pierced right through me. Cleary it’s because I had stuff to grieve, but it’s also because on a larger society-wide scale she’s right. Perhaps it pierced through you too? : “We all experience loss in tiny ways every day. When people have a loss in their lives we try to fix that and say, ‘Don’t be sad. Here take this drug, or let’s go for a run…’ depression follows from that. Depression is anger without enthusiasm. Depression is not feeling sad. People who can feel sadness are deeply alive, because it’s an intense feeling that balances joy.

There is something spiritually profound about being still and watching your mind. Most of our unhappiness is not created by what happens to us but by what we tell ourselves about it. With Restorative Yoga you create a space to watch the rising and falling of thoughts. And then the most important thing we can do can happen- we can dis-identify with our thoughts, ‘I am having a thought of anger, a thought of sadness, but it’s not who I am.’”

13. Redesigning your life to be less convenient can have huge benefits. Valerie Berg, in talking about structural aging and the shoulder pain and immobility that can result from not raising your arms above our heads mentioned, “Years ago I had my kitchen redone and I had them make the cabinets really high, so every day I have to reach really high to get bowls and things.” I love that! We should start a design movement around objects that make life less convenient and therefore make us move more... who’s with me? (P.S. I know Valerie in the real world- not super well but we’ve been in the same place at the same time together- and she is one of the most sparkly personalities. It’s like she’s always got some secret she is delighted by, or some fun-loving prank she might pull at any moment. So to picture her telling a kitchen designer/contractor that she wanted to make it hard for her to reach her things in the cabinets just gave me a special kind of giggle and satisfaction.)

14. Oh fascia. Why won’t anyone give you the cred you deserve? Fortunately for us people like Thomas Myers are on the case. And he’s spreading the concept of fascia as the 3rd big auto-regulatory system: “So I’ve put forth this idea that the fascia is the 3rd big auto-regulatory system. The nervous system is an amazing auto-regulatory system, and circulatory system ever since the 1600′s has been seen as just that- we add in the lymph and the cerebrospinal fluid and we have an idea of how the fluids work in the body.

After 500 years of anatomy we still don’t have this image of the fascia as a whole system. Every time I go to Equinox in NY I see someone on a foam rolling out their iliotibial band. It’s really of limited value, and it’s really quite painful, and if someone could see this as a part of this larger system they might not do it- but the predominating vision in a lot of people’s minds is that we think of ourselves as put together like a Ford or a Dell computer. We live in an industrial society, and so we think of ourselves in these terms. But it’s a really inadequate view.

15. Let’s examine the openness bias, shall we? Matthew Remski: “The openness bias- of flexibility as the goal- is harmful not only to those who are hypermobile, but also to those who are less mobile as well. The studio culture often tells us that more open is more virtuous. Those who identify as “bendy types” were praised for going deep into poses which weren’t really hard for them. And as they were being asked to demonstrate and practicing they were injuring themselves. Women within the hypermobile category are showing the highest rate of lumbar spine injuries.

The other thing about the openness bias is that there is this unspoken connection between joint mobility and emotional openness. Looking at back-bends: when called heart-opening, it suggests that a particular thoracic movement will have a particular emotional effect. Openness in the joints is often associated with an ability to be placid and accepting. First, are these virtues we actually want? And second, is that actually true? I don’t have statistics, but I’ve met plenty of bendy people who are as emotionally closed as anybody else I know.

16. What the hell is stretching anyway!? Jules Mitchell totally blew my mind when the work she did for her Master’s Thesis confirmed what I had been experiencing my whole life: “The concept of stretching in itself, at least in the yoga community, this idea that if you stretch more and stretch harder that it will get longer and you will increase your range and you will get more flexible has very little truth to it. In reality that’s just damaging it [the tissue]. If you hold a rubber band and stretch it, then you release that- you release the load- it goes back to its original shape.

Lack of range of motion is not realty about lengthening. It’s much more an issue of tolerance. It’ s a use it or lose it thing. If you never work in that range of motion your body doesn’t understand it and doesn’t want to go there.

So your nervous system limits your range of motion. That argument is the hardest one to come to terms with- that for the most part range of motion is an issue of tolerance and not mechanical length. “Tolerance” means can they go there? When they hit the end of their range, that’s their nervous system limiting their range. If they were under anesthesia, they would have a full range of motion.”

17. Compression doesn’t just make your back feel cranky. Eric Goodman: “The modern body is super compressed- we are losing the war against gravity terribly. What about the digestive issues, the depression, the mood issues- these are just other forms of compression.”

18. The wolf and the Chihuahua. I asked Erwan LeCorre, “What are zoo humans?” And he responded, “It is a metaphor. Some people are insulted by it- a different metaphor would be that we’re farm animals, or domesticated animals. We’re a little bit like pets. All dog species come from the wolf, which means the Chihuahua and the wolf are related. The Chihuahua would die within hours or days in a wild environment. We are fabricating a form of a “human breed”. We are to our ancestors what the Chihuahua is to a wolf. It’s not about giving people a hard time- but it’s an observation that most people have become alien to the body and are in a state of physical neglect.”

19. A return to head carrying? Esther Gokhale, “Head carrying is something we are not doing at all in our culture. We are really missing out from not doing this. If you have to carry on your head it keeps the rest of your spine honest. You get immediate feedback and you have to straighten out. Putting a small weight on the head is the best way to line things up. It is a very primal experience. All the stabilizers in your neck and spine say, “We know this!” and gear into action. “

20. Can you re-visit your infancy to get super strong as an adult? Tim Anderson and Geoff Neupert of Original Strength enlightened us about the bridge between movement and brain development, and how we’re actually regressing our brain development in our under-moving culture. Tim and Geoff developed their work by looking at information that had been previously been applied in the areas of learning disabilities, brain development, and brain rehabilitation.


As always, I am hugely grateful to all the smarties who have shared their work and passion with all of us. Thank you. This is the end of my indulging in nostalgia for season one (well in print anyway), and season 2 will arrive on (Liberated) Tuesday, April 21st. Yes! For reals! More nuggets of wisdom!

Additionally, April is a challenge- aka movement cleanse- month for us, so if you have been curious to try out the Liberated Body 30-Day Challenge, there just isn’t a better season (in my opinion) to dive in than glorious springtime. And if you have been a challenger in the past, you’re still in and can rejoin the group for fun kinesthetic exploring again. If you have no idea what I’m talking avbout of course, you can visit the challenge page to read up on all the details. Doors open this Saturday the 28th. Let’s play this April!

image by Leo Reynolds

Erwan LeCorre: Evolutionary Fitness (LBP 005)


Erwan LeCorre, founder of MovNat, explains what natural movement really means: it is the movements our ancestors have been doing throughout the history of our species, but which are now often voluntary and not required for daily life. He explains how we’ve become a lot like Chihuahuas, why only doing as much as you can do well trumps brutalizing yourself in your fitness regimen, and how natural movement heals.




Show notes

What does natural movement mean? The movement skills that our ancestors have been practicing in the world since the dawn of human time- balancing, walking, climbing, running, lifting heavy things, jumping, throwing, etc.

Some people may ask, "We don't live in that environment any longer, so why would I do all these things?" It's not about mimicking our past. If there is anything that happens right now- right here right now- that requires you to sprint or carry somebody for example- are you prepared?

Also we are meant to move. Our culture makes us believe that it is optional, but it is a biological necessity. The people who move less have a lesser quality of life and of health.

Today children are often discouraged to go outside or take risk. Nobody is going to grow strong and healthy in that kind of environment. We need nature and we need movement- a lot.

As a kid he was encouraged to go out a lot. He could disappear into the woods for hours. His father would come with him and encourage him to do things he couldn't tackle on my own, and he never ceased to value this type of movement.

He enjoyed my experiences of specialized sports, but never stopped thinking about an approach to lifestyle that encouraged natural movements.

All physical education in Europe 200 or 300 years ago were all based on these practical movements.

Mobility drills are a part of the MovNat drills- the movement and mobility don't have to exist separately.

You want to stop thinking of "exercise" that it's a chore. That lazy people don't do it, but if you're good you do it- your weight training, and your cardio training, and your mobility.

But you want to think of  what makes up the bulk of your physical activity every day. The same way supplementation on top of an unhealthy diet, movement supplementation, i.e. exercise, won't work if the bulk of your movement is physical idleness every day.

Your mobility, strength, cardio, balance, etc will all fall into place. You don't need specific drills for specific needs. The reason you lack mobility isn't because you don't do yoga, it's because your daily life lacks natural movement. The reason you lack strength isn't because you don't work on the weight machines at the gym, it's because you aren't sprinting and lifting heavy things.

Potential has never been lost- if you recreate the movement environment it will come back.

What are zoo humans?

It is a metaphor. Some people are insulted by it- a different metaphor would be that we're farm animals, or domesticated animals. We're a little bit like pets. All dog species come from the wolf, which means the Chihuahua and the wolf are related. The Chihuahua would die within hours or days in a wild environment. We are fabricating a form of a "human breed"- we are to our ancestors what the Chihuahua is to a wolf.

It's not about giving people a hard time- but it's an observation that most people have become alien to the body and are in a state of physical neglect.

You cannot live optimally if your body is abandoned.

Have you seen people use MovNat to recover from injuries or pain or to get off of the path of the downward spiral?

We have a lot of people who have been through a lot of therapies, but who got great results from re-creating their natural movements with MovNat

This isn't to say that professionals aren't important- but any therapist cannot do anything for you if you don't remove the cause of your problem. Many physical problems stem from a lack of movement.

Even people who are physically active have become specialists- they do one type of movement, and that is going to create issues down the road.

Lifestyle behavior [movement] needs to support any therapy you are getting [for pain, injury, etc].

"You can only do as much as you can do well"- MovNat is a method, meaning that it's not about going into nature and trying to just jump  off stuff and break your legs.

A method means you are going to learn essential movement efficiency principles that include position, posture, timing, tension, relaxation, and techniques.

A lot of people realize that they have been neglecting their body, and that is a healthy awakening. Unfortunately, a lot of people want fast results and they are ready to brutalize themselves to get in shape in a matter or days or weeks. And that is completely delusional. You can't reverse the effects of physical idleness that quickly.

It's important that you understand mindfulness, and gentleness and kindness to yourself. Your body is not a machine, it's you. And you only have one. It is not to be mistreated. It's about listening to your sensations. You want to be patient and you want to understand that it's a process.

Movement is more than just something you have to do- it's not a chore. It is an expression of who you are. It is a biological necessity.

Don't expect instant gratification when it comes to how you look on the beach. But do expect instant gratification when it comes to happiness, a sense of freedom, and a sense of well-being that comes through movement. You can have satisfaction right now.

MovNat places a great emphasis on movement quality and efficiency through the teaching and the acquisition of techniques. Even if you have the most powerful computer, but you don't know how to use the software, then your computer is useless. If exercise is just about exerting yourself, you don't learn anything. You need to learn movement skills. You need to develop physical competency for the real world.

At the same time, without physical conditioning, skills alone won't do it. We emphasize technique, but also strength and cardio conditioning that require intensity. But only on the basis that the movements are still efficient.

If you want to get into natural movement right now, today, Erwan recommends that people go to the local playground and watch the movements the kids do, try to see if you could do the same. Also check out the Movement of the Day on MovNat (in resources).

Erwan is currently currently watching his 16 month old son and watching his development and movements stage-by-stage. He's also always exploring the basics. Natural movement is so broad, he never stops rediscovering them. For example, in walking the other day, just refreshing his perception when he does the simple movements.

" He quotes Gray Cook: "We are meant to grow strong and age gracefully. Reclamation of authentic movement is the starting point."

Home play!

Head to the playground! Watch kids playing in their un-self-conscious ways- no reps, no 'exercise as a chore'- and see if you can get on the equipment and move like they are. (As always, within the range of what is an option for you physically right now.)


Gray Cook and Erwan LeCorre program: Exploring Functional Movement

Here's a review I wrote on that program on Breaking Muscle

Movement of the Day, or MOD, on MovNat