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.
Geeking out on Movement Patterns
Train movement, not muscle.
The sentiment of training movement versus muscle is the heart of functional training. This is why we strongly believe in movement pattern training based on 11 functional movement patterns, as currently identified in research by physical therapists, strength & conditioning coaches and developmental kinesiologists. We’ve further broken these down into three categories to help with understanding and exercise selection.
Core Dominant Patterns
These are the foundations for a body that moves well. They require deep integration throughout the core muscles (including, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, erector spinae, diaphragm, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus, and trapezius).
Unfortunately for many, these are the weakest patterns and are often the cause of lower back pain or other injuries. Starting with a deep foundation of mobility and stability in these areas will enable the body to develop strength for further movements.
We love these patterns so much that we’ve got a 7-part core kickstart series that focuses on progressing the patterns and building great core strength.
- Rock / Roll: Change of positions from supine (on back) to prone (on tummy) or lying to seated that trains cross-lateral movement.
- Plank: Integrates deep inner core musculature for postural focus and isometric contractions.
- Crawl: Trains reflexive stability & strength through cross-lateral movement and coordination in a horizontal position.
Leg Dominant Patterns
As anyone with a physically able lower body continues to grow and develop during childhood, we eventually learn to stand, pick things up and walk. Many (many) muscles are involved in helping these actions occur, with the primary ones being the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and feet.
All of these patterns are complex and require multiple muscles and joints to fire together. Thus, it’s super important to build a solid base of mobility and stability before moving into the moves’ complexity.
Furthermore, all require a solid foundation of balance. Static balance (staying in one place) is the start, but focusing on dynamic (moving) balance is the key to building these movements. Building the mobility, stability, and balance for the leg dominant moves is the focus of CounterFlow Yoga: Balance – and the primary reason we separated the class into different programs (Stretch, Balance & Power).
- Squat: Moves body up and down through simultaneous flexion of the ankle, knee, and hip (aka. triple flexion & triple extension). Requires chest to maintain an upright position by pushing hips back and hinging forward.
- Hinge: Slight bend of knees with back straight and forward lean while pushing hips backward. This requires excellent control in the core to maintain a neutral spine while moving hips backwards.
- Gait: Coordinated cross-lateral movement in a vertical position that enables the body to move forward and backward through locomotion.
- Lunge: An unbalanced and staggard position in which one leg is positioned forward and the other leg is behind the body.
Arm/Torso Dominant Patterns
In today’s society, we spend a lot of time pushing objects; many traditional strength exercises are pushing (ex. chest press), yet our shoulders are rounded forward and hunched due to poor posture. Therefore, it’s essential to consider the posterior chain’s role (aka. back of the body) when working on these movement patterns.
- Push: Moves objects in either a vertical or horizontal away from the body.
- Pull: Moves objects in either a vertical or horizontal motion towards the body.
- Carry*: A lift and walk movement that builds total-body strength, improves posture, and improves grip strength (which research shows can be a better predictor of longevity than traditional health markers like blood pressure!).
- Rotate: Requires deep inner stability and postural alignment to generate movement around the spine driven by the hips.
*Note: it’s often questioned if this is more of a body position versus a functional movement pattern, but we like to consider it a movement pattern in our CounterFlow Movement Approach due to its impact on posture and core stability.
Dig deeper into exercise science concepts
More than just movement. More modern than traditional yoga asana.
CounterFlow Yoga is the next generation of mindful movement.