Conscious Movement Coaching for Functional Fitness and Well-Being

'Playful' Walking Workout
I've noticed in my life when there is the energy and lightness of play in my 'inner fitness' practice (aka yoga and meditation), physical fitness endeavors, kitchen productions and my personal and business relationships that I feel I can express myself more authentically.  Play seems to open the door to spontaneity and creativity.  

But not the earnest endeavour that seems to unfold from 'play ball', rather more the playground experience of free play or even the more structured play of games that may involve a verse, a rhythm or repeating controlled movements or like the natural energy and flow of a stream finding its way downhill.    

Peter Gray, an evolutionary psychologist, wrote an article on the value of social play in hunter-gatherer societies:
   " Hunter-gatherers everywhere seem to have been acutely sensitive to the possibility that, at any time, hierarchical, dependent, dominance relationships could arise within their society and destroy the equality and unselfish sharing upon which their survival depended. To prevent that from happening, they developed cultural practices aimed at reinforcing their egalitarianism and nipping in the bud any tendencies toward hierarchy and domination. To me, the striking, unifying aspect of the practices they developed lies in the degree to which they involved play or playfulness."

Kids in urban areas of course often use playgrounds for free play- monkey bars, swings and climbing domes for example.  And yes, this is purposefully structured developmental physical and social play and it's generally outdoors in natural light in a green space or park-like setting. of the ways of incorporating some play into staying fit as an adult is reclaiming some of that youthful spontaneity and fun by participating in a walking workout.  For example, my walks around my neighbourhood are sometimes upgraded to 'survival' refresh fun-during appropriate seasons-by including some picnic bench yoga moves and some barefoot earth walking/sprinting.   As well I've also located a few trees with appropriate branches for pull ups/chin ups and add in sets of dips on suitable benches along the route.  Also it's been fun for me doing this with friends and/or family members, it has included activities like spontaneous dashes, rock tossing, leap frogging and cartwheeling across the local tundra (aka soccer fields ; ).  For now, it's dashing through the snow season though.

What's your experience with playful activities and keeping fit?

Towards being happy, healthy and wholesome

Minimalist Footware
"Tis the gift to be simple, tis the gift to be free...", so begins one of my current favourite hymns, a Shaker dance song by Elder Joseph Brackett; circa 1848...  I enjoy using it to close out my barefoot yoga classes of late.

I'm pleased to notice lately I'm feeling this way as I spend more time living with less, some by choice, some through circumstances of late.  I've been happily shifting to putting more of an effort walking, biking and trekking about my town.  I've been choosing less shoe time when conditions warrant it for the last several years, at least during the unwinter months. 

My gait pattern has shifted gradually to accommodate a softer mid sole landing and at times a 'soft' heel to toe pattern versus a more pronounced heel to toe foot 'strike' pattern I've been accustomed to.  I'm liking the shorter stride length and more alert/instinctual walking pattern; it's allowed me to successfully resume running again, as in some jogging.  Prefer more sprinting though as I'm more for ancestral type of workouts of late, works better and time wise much more efficient.

My daughter Surya gifted me a pair of minimus New Balance shoes this summer, which I'm really cool is that?  One difference I noticed is that my feet seem to have changed shape some, requiring upsizing to accomodate a larger width across the metatarsal area; my feet have 'unsprung'.    

Barefoot versus being shod in my view and experience as a trainer and yoga teacher-at least some of the time-can help to generate a more tactile cognitive sensation when standing, practicing postures or mobility movements that in my view enhance balance, upright posture, helps create better stability and core engagement. Dr. William A Rossi, a former podiatrist and advocate of natural footware seems to agree: 

     "In  shoe wearing societies a visibly faulty gait can often be corrected and made normal, but it can never be made natural as long as conventional shoes are worn. It is biomechanically impossible because of the forced alterations from the natural in foot stance, postural alignment, body balance, equilibrium, body mechanics and weight distribution caused by shoes."

The good news is, at any age we know from research the human body in it's wise with effort can refresh and renew healthier patterns and habits.  The barefoot discussion is on, sooo... here's some of the science, the why behind barefoot movement, originally I saw this link on Paul Kedrosky's web site.

In closing, I recollect enjoying the simplicity and freedom of walking barefoot to the beach from our family's cottage at West Hawk Lake  back in flatland  as a lad; I noticed that my feet would toughen up during the summer months.  Always liked the feeling of walking on moss at the edge of the trail and then walking on the exposed tree roots along the pathway to the beach and finally the warm sand and cool waters edge.  

Full circle memories.  

Towards being happy, healthy and wholesome,


    Greetings, my name is Don Carmichael, the conscious core strength guy.  I'm grateful and happy to offer up my work as a holistic Kinesiologist.  My wish is that this type of work through gentle collaboration will encourage, inspire and support awakening your sense of embodied well being: stronger, leaner, healthier and happier at home and at work.


    December 2011
    November 2011



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