Functional Yoga is more about what you experience when doing the yoga pose/movement.
Are you feeling the stretch where you want it to be?
Are you strengthening the muscles?
Is it serving you to provide needed movement?
In short, is it working for you?
If it is, it's functional - go for it.

What is Functional Movement?

Movements and exercises are considered functional, if they support and strengthen the movement patterns that your body relies on to get tasks done every day.
Think about how you pull a box off a shelf, squat down to pick a box up, or walk around all day.
There are 7 primal movements: bending, squatting, lunging, twisting, pulling, walking (gait) and pushing.
So, what is the big deal you might think?
You can go to your nearest gym to strengthen the associated muscles, but what can we do to support the movement patterns?
How do we increase the active range of movement?

When we think about increasing range of motion, we think of yoga.
That stretches us, right?
Well, let's interrogate that a little further too.
Hmm, is it essential for you to put your legs behind your head to do the grocery shopping?
Or, do you need to headstand while you work?
Thankfully not!
The beyond-normal range of motion, sometimes sub-optimal alignment and the missing movements of pull and gait, plus the focus on flexibility limit how functional yoga can be.

Flexibility vs mobility in yoga asana.

One key focus of functional yoga is mobility, rather than flexibility.
Flexibility is how far we can push into a stretch.
On the other hand, mobility is the meeting of flexibility and control.
A good example here is lotus pose.
For most of us, not the most natural nor easy pose to come into.
If you practice it, do you use your hands to help your legs into it?
Most likely, that was a yes.
Using your hands to assist in this pose shows flexibility, where you get to without that assistance is your mobility.
Improving flexibility is not necessarily creating strength of movement or joint stability; it's more passive.
When we train mobility, we use the muscles involved in that movement to make it happen, strengthening the muscles that support the joint.
This is what defines functional training.

Contact Ty Arnold

Subscribe to Ty's Email List

Brought to you by Vital Life Services, LLC
What we think, we become.

-- Buddha