When you hear the phrase “primal” movements, what comes to mind? Maybe it’s something like crawling, or getting up off the floor—some of the first things babies learn how to do but that adults can fall out of practice with. Also called “developmental” movement, these positions and transitions can be surprisingly challenging—to body and mind!—if you’re not used to doing them as part of your exercise routine (or if you don’t have a small child in your life).
But in returning to these basic, organic ways of using our muscles and skeleton in relationship to the ground and gravity, we can gain not only improved awareness of our inner world (interoception) and outer world (proprioception), but also gain more confidence in all aspects of life.
Resistance bands are excellent tools to restore your agility in primal movements. As their name implies, they do a great job of adding resistance (or load) in a movement, meaning you’ll gain strength in the process. They can also assist in movements, too, by more or less holding your body in place as you get used to new patterns of movement. Because of this versatility, the bands will help you sharpen your interoception and proprioception both, which are some of the most primal skills we have as humans!
Scorpion to Skandasana
You can play around with a banded primal movement sequence in this transition between two yoga postures, scorpion and skandasana. In moving between the floor and standing, your lower half will definitely be waking up—and the strength needed in the legs for this movement sequence might require more than a single class to build.
The resistance bands can offer a fast-track to that kind of strength and awareness, as we’ll explore in the breakdown of a sequence from my virtual studio. Each segment prepares the body for part of the transition from scorpion to skandasana that we do in a more fluid way as the culmination, or “peak,” of the class.
Here’s a breakdown of the sequence:
1. Roll up your yoga mat and stand on it, with your heels on the ground and upper part of your foot on the mat. This position of the feet works dorsiflexion at the ankle, preparing you for the sit-to-stand work of the transition. There’s also a mini-band on my wrists behind my back, to prep extension of the shoulders. A full-body warm-up!
2. Bringing more attention to the legs, we place a mini-band around the thighs and stand on the rolled mat to elevate the heels (which takes the ankle challenge out of it). From there, we squat. Who doesn’t love squats? As you lower to the floor, do a little “Charleston” move by pushing the knees wider into the resistance of the band.
3. More squats, but with an additional ankle challenge—stagger your feet on the roll, with one heel on the roll and one heel off the roll. Keep Charleston-ing!
4. Getting down on the ground, flow between a wide supine upavista konasana, navasana, and a rotated dandasana. Notice where the bands increase the core challenge, and where they make it easier!
5. Standing up, place a long, looped band around one foot (that will stay on the ground), and around the other leg’s thigh (that will step up onto a chair or elevated surface, like a couch or bench). Let your weight sway from the leg on the ground to the leg on the chair—this is the trajectory of skandasana, but you’ll feel a challenge in the stability of the ankles.
6. Do the same thing sans chair, with both feet on the ground, and add a little side-angle-to-side-plank-to-the-floor flow. Again, where does the band resist, and where does it assist? The bands here are primarily for feedback to connect our two legs to our brain better.
7. Put it all together! Lose the bands as you go from standing, lunging to the side into skandasana, lowering to the floor and rolling into the prone scorpion, then coming all the way back up. Vary the speed of your flow to use the floor, momentum, joint mobility, and hands to give us a boost; feel how it is to plop or not to plop; and definitely don’t take any of this too seriously.
This type of unusual primal themed banded transition—going from prone to standing in one move, an unusual way to get off the floor—is something to work toward over time, so don’t fret if you don’t get it on the first go-around. In my virtual movement studio, there’s lots of ways to explore strength and mobility where lateral squats (and squats of many kinds) as well as scorpions make regular appearances—whether it’s Yoga with Bands, Sweet Simple Strength, Kettlebell Gym, or Self-Massage. Explore all of them and more, and see what the diversity of movement does to remind your body of its primal movements!