What Improv Teaches Us About Better Movement

I don't know about you, but I find something inspiring about improvisation.  Whether it's comedic a la Whose Line Is It Anyway or artistic in contact improv, the ability to create something from nothing and roll with the punches is incredible.

And I realized recently that the rules of improvisation have a direct link to moving better.  Which makes a bit of intuitive sense...after all, movement is a moment-to-moment improvisation (you can read all about how we make movement here

If you keep these improv rules in mind, you'll naturally start to expand what you're capable of in your movement practice.

I was reading a great little book called "Do/Improvise", and the author (Robert Poynton) laid out the rules in 6 words:

  1. Notice more.
  2. Let go.
  3. Use everything.

As soon as I read that, I was blown away.  That's exactly how we can improve our quality of movement too.  

Think about it:

  • When we improve our awareness (notice more), we boost the functioning of our nervous system and the organization of our bodies.  We enrich the sensorimotor dialogue between the central nervous system and the meaty bits of the body.
  • When we reduce excess tension (let go), our joints are free to move throughout their natural range of motion with more ease, and we reduce "neural noise" to further improve that sensorimotor dialogue.
  • When we move our bodies in natural, integrated ways (use everything) we find balance and symmetrical function without the complication of piece-meal approaches.  

So how do we put this into practice?  Try this:

1. Start lying comfortably on your back and tune in to what sensations you notice...where do you touch the ground?  Where is your body in space?

There's no need to fix anything at this stage of the game.  Just bring curious attention to what signals your body is giving you.

2. Settle into the ground.  Think of diffusing your weight throughout your body, seeping into the floor more and more.  Where can you release excessive holding in this position?  What can you let go of here?

3. Explore your body's natural movements from this position.  Can you roll from your back to your belly?  Can you reverse that?  Can you rock up to a seat?  These little movements are the building blocks of our more complex movements.

Notice more.  Let go.  Use everything.  These simple rules make a world of difference in your movement.  And if six words just feels like too many, Poynton gives us a condensed version as well...

Everything's an offer.

How will you respond?  

Everything around you contains an opportunity to move and be moved.  Every stair, every tree branch, every chance encounter with a friend in the coffeeshop...each is an offer for more movement and connection, both to our own bodies and the world around us.

How can you notice more?

What can you let go of?

How can you use everything?

Try it out, and reply back to let me know what you come up with.

Chandler StevensComment