I just did an interview this week, and one of the questions was about the possible overlap between Marie Kondo’s philosophy behind her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and my approach to furniture-free living.
I can see similarities, for sure. When your body hasn’t moved in certain ways in a long time, moving them is akin to sweeping out the accumulated cobwebs that have developed in a stagnant area of your home.
While I can’t speak for Kondo, my interpretation of her work is that you’re not only cleaning for cleaning’s sake, but for the sake of, at least in part, efficiency. The more unnecessary items you have amassed, the more cluttered your pantry, closet, and drawers, the more expensive each decision is in terms of time and maybe stress. When you have just a handful of items left that you love, decisions are more streamlined—you can travel more directly down the path of “get dressed” and “make dinner.”
Similarly, the purpose of Nutritious Movement exercises is not only to clean out any "cobwebs" in underused parts, but also to create an efficient pathway for that particular movement, so it occurs more and more often even when you’re not doing it as an exercise. We choose to do and teach movements that organize a particular pattern of use that’s most efficient to accomplish both your task and your general part-maintenance.
What I learn (and continue to learn) while purging unused items from my home is how easy it is to accumulate…um…crap. “Crap” being a giant category of stuff I wasn’t aware of or didn’t plan on receiving, bits of trash, empty containers that “I’ll deal with later.” Tidying up helps me become aware of the mess I had tuned out, and our exercises—specifically the alignments of our exercises—help you become aware of a lack of movement you might have accumulated.
To spring clean your shoulders while doing some spring cleaning (see how the efficiency of movement is increased beyond the movement itself?) try the exercise below:
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You can scale this move; experiment adding each of these steps, but don’t feel you have to all at once!
- Try this with your elbows bent.
- Try it trying to keep your arms straight.
- Try it with ribcage in place (might have to go back to elbows, and then add straighter arms).
- Try it without moving the pelvis forward or torso backward (backbend, might have to go back to elbows).
- Try it without leaning to the side.
- Try it with a giant SMILE on your face the entire time.
(If your shoulders say "no way," check out Whole Body Biomechanics: Upper Body course for 25 moves this builds upon. Want to start smaller? From the Shoulders Up has 5 easy exercises on DVD or as a download.)
This move is pretty similar to the movements used for the every day task of putting on a coat on or a towel around you after bathing. In the end, we perform these tasks however we can, there are just many ways to avoid moving the shoulders while doing so. Pairing this move with working through the above list is a way to start moving your shoulders more. These alignment checks are how you become aware you might be doing your "shoulder exercises" with your elbows and spine. Most of all, ENJOY!