In CounterFlow Yoga, we approach movement from the foundations of exercise science and movement pattern research
These 4 principles guide every flow in every class.
Moving up & down and all around
Body Positions & Levels of Movement
Digging deeper into the concept of movement patterns and a layer below planes of motions is the idea of body positions, or the levels in which you complete movement. In the simplest terms, these are low, middle, and high movements. They can be large and expansive or small and low.
When we increase our range of motion in a movement this often causes us to get bigger or deeper into a move. This simple change can have a huge impact on how the body responds and the gains achieved from the pattern. Within each class, you’ll find that we move through these levels and positions in different ways. The physical demands for each of these body positions are unique, and it’s highly considered in the design of the various CounterFlow Yoga programs (Stretch, Balance & Power).
While there are many different body positions, we choose to focus on the following six position categories within CounterFlow Yoga.
Note: As mentioned in the Movement Pattern Research section, some may classify a Carry as a body position versus a movement pattern, we prefer to leave it as a movement pattern based on the demands that are required, but it could easily be interchanged to fit into the body positions or levels of movement conversation as well.
Lying | Low Horizontal Body Position
Lying down is the lowest body position you can be in! You are either face up, on your tummy, or lying on your side. Many moves can be done from a lying position.
- Supine: Lying on your back, looking towards the sky. Advanced levels can have hips lifted off the ground—a movement of the arms, torso, and legs in all three planes of motion.
- Prone: Lying on your stomach, looking toward the floor (keep the neck neutral by looking down). Movement of the arms and legs traditionally in the sagittal or transverse plane of motion.
- Side-Lying: Lying on your side, hips stacked on top of each other. There are many arm variations – from completely outstretched to lifted on the hand – each changes the exercise’s difficulty—movement of the arms, torso, hips, and legs in all planes of motion.
Sitting | Low Vertical Body Position
Sitting is a low position with a high variation when you choose to pull out a chair to sit on. Sitting happens when your booty is on the floor (or chair) and your body is upright and tall. Good core control is needed for good sitting positions. It’s important to note that the demands of going from the floor to standing require a great deal of core control, mobility, and stability when sitting on the floor.
- Feet Flat on Floor (High Sitting): The most stable position with your bottom on a chair, back straight, and feet flat on the floor.
- Legs Crossed: Typically done when your bottom is on the floor, legs are crossed and close to the body. This requires a good deal of hip flexibility to sit with comfort and ease.
- Legs Extended: By extending the legs either straight forward or in a wide straddle position, the core requirements for sitting tall become much more significant, and the movement will feel much different.
- Single-Leg Extended: When only extending one leg in front of the body or to the side of the body when sitting, there is an anti-rotational demand placed on the core to keep centered.
Quadruped | Low Horizontal Body Position
The next level of movement is a quadruped position in which you start with four limbs on the ground; this can be done in both a supine and prone position. Many core integration exercises are done in the quadruped position.
- Prone Quadruped (Beast Position): Kneeling on all fours with your wrists under shoulders and knees under hips. The back should be neutral, with eyes towards the ground. Toes can be flat (plantarflexed) or tucked under (dorsiflexed) – each allowing for different levels of stability—movement available through all joints in all planes of motion.
- Supine Quadruped (Crab or Table Position): On all fours, in a supine position. Only your hands and feet touch the ground. Hips can be low with butt almost touching the ground to a fully lifted position with hips parallel to the floor – each requiring different levels of shoulder mobility—movement of the arms, hips, and legs in all planes of motion.
Kneeling | Low/Mid Vertical Body Position
Kneeling is a low to mid level body position that requires the body’s center to be in control to maintain an upright posture.
- Double Knees: Position with both of your knees on the ground and your upper body upright. The amount of knee bend could vary from none at all (completely vertical) to fully flexed (butt sitting on heels) – each allowing for different levels of mobility needs and stability recruitment—movement of the arms and torso through all planes of motion.
- Staggered: Position with one knee on the ground and the other bent at 90-degrees in front of the body. The amount of knee bend (for the knee on the ground) can vary from none at all (completely vertical) to fully flexed (butt sitting on heels) – each allowing for different levels of mobility needs and stability recruitment. The upper body can be completely vertical or hinged forward at hips—movement of the arms and torso through all planes of motion.
- Squatting or Crouching: The act of sitting your butt down and back by bending the hips, knees, and ankles (triple flexion). Your butt does not come in contact with the floor (different than sitting). The range of motion can vary from a high position to a low resting position squat—movement throughout the body in all planes of motion.
Standing Parallel Stance | High Vertical Body Position
Standing is the highest vertical position our body can be in and is a prevalent position. In the parallel stance, feet are parallel and forward (or slightly turned out), requiring stability in the hips and lower leg musculature.
- Neutral Posture: Full upright position with your toes forward, feet directly under hips, knees slightly bent, and spine neutral. This is how our body should function daily for most activities—movement throughout the entire body and in all planes of motion.
- Athletic Ready: Feet outside your hips with a slight bend in the knees. This is traditionally used as a “set” position in sport to change direction and position quickly. Movement is available throughout the entire body and in all planes of motion.
- Wide Stance: Feet outside your shoulders with toes either turned out or forward. This is a more stable position that decreases the recruitment of hips and glutes. Movement is available throughout the entire body and in all planes of motion.
- Narrow Stance: Full upright position with your feet directly together and touching. The smallest base of support available with feet next to each other. Movement is unrestricted throughout the entire body in all planes of motion.
Standing Split Stance | High Vertical Body Position
The most dynamic and demanding body position is that of a standing split stance. It requires a solid base of support from our feet through our legs to ensure both dynamic and static balance are achieved.
- Staggered Stance: “Railroad tracks” – Standing position with one foot in front of your torso and the other foot behind your torso. Feet are shoulder distance apart (as if you’re standing on railroad tracks), with your back heel either lifted or on the ground. The amount of knee bend can vary from entirely straight (upright) to full depth with the knee hovering over the floor. Movement is available throughout the entire body in all planes of motion.
- Split Stance: “Tight-rope walking” – Standing position with one foot in front of your torso and the other foot behind your torso. Toes of back foot in line with the front foot’s heel (as if you’re standing on a tightrope), with your back heel, either lifted or on the ground. The amount of knee bend can vary from entirely straight (upright) to full depth with the knee hovering over the floor. Movement is available throughout the entire body in all planes of motion.
- Tandem Stance: Heel-to-toe standing position. Both feet are flat on the ground and toes directly forward. A challenging balance position that demonstrates the ability to complete a lunge safely. Movement of the arms, torso, and hips through all planes of motion.
- Single-Leg: Standing position with one of your legs lifted off the ground. Most challenging balance position, requiring stabilization through the feet, legs, and core—movement throughout the body in all planes of motion.
The fun of movement is that we can constantly manipulate movement patterns and exercises by changing the body’s position or the level in which a move is completed. It is through this change of positions that we can create a truly functional body.
Dig deeper into exercise science concepts
Add to your library with our curated list of top reads on exercise science and movement training.
If research articles are your thing, then this bibliography style list will make you happy.
The only way to really understand CounterFlow Yoga is to just do it! Enjoy this bundle of all 3 classes.
More than just movement. More modern than traditional yoga asana.
CounterFlow Yoga is the next generation of mindful movement.