Mobility classes are held at ICE UES each Saturday at 12:15 p.m.
As a practitioner and teacher of yoga as well as an athlete, I am constantly asking myself to hold space for my body to operate in a state of simultaneous effort and ease, strength and flexibility, power and softness - which essentially is mobility.
Mobility isn’t synonymous with flexibility. Being flexible is not enough, nor is it required. Coordination and balance also require stability, or strength. This dynamic sweet spot is what I aim to achieve and teach through a regular mobility practice.
There is no perfect or ideal way to be before showing up to practice mobility, start with where you are and through consistency and commitment, be open to some powerful shifts happening for you.
Create sustainable movement patterns.
Rather than achieving a certain outcome, I like to encourage people to focus on getting back to basics in order to build a strong foundation. This way more complex movement patterns can root into stability. Developing efficiency in the body not only prevents injury, it supports an increased range of motion, and better posture. Your body will be able to handle lifting more weight, if that is within your goals, and overall endurance can increase. With proper recovery and active rest, there’s space for the body to repair and reset so that sustainable movement becomes your habit rather than poor form, fatigue and overcompensation.
Within my classes, I like to dedicate some time to elements of fitness that we don’t always see in a typical workout. We practice agility, or a sense of quickness and dexterity, as well as balance and coordination. According to a study from the Air Force Research Laboratory, incorporating these elements improves cognitive function - specifically memory and concentration. Of course, combined with a general fitness program they also can make you a more well-rounded and versatile athlete as well.
Develop physical and emotional awareness.
I am a huge proponent of listening to the body - knowing what it is to tune in, and feel good. But in this world and specifically this city we live in, it can be hard to actually know what it means to feel good. Mobility supports a higher level of emotional and physical body awareness which enables you to set boundaries, make decisions more readily and to respond rather than react emotionally. It opens up your ability to be in control - and not a New York City “in control” neurotic, raging, crazy person but I’m talking about true mastery in the sense that time between an external stimulus and internal response in the brain is lengthened resulting in less reacting from a state of emotion. According to a study by neuroscientists at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School the brain can generate more gray matter with increased practices in mindfulness. Gray matter is the area of the brain involved with memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.
Reduce the risk for illness.
When the body and brain aren’t constantly freaking out about the world around us, the body’s production of stress hormones can dramatically decrease. Prolonged stress not only prevents us from crushing it in the gym, in our jobs, and in our relationships but, it’s also the root of arguably the most challenging current public health epidemic that we are facing: chronic illness. This study from Carnegie Mellon University explores the relationship between high cortisol levels and inflammation in the body, which results in the inability of the body to most efficiently fight disease. Obesity, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol - these can all be attributed in part to high levels of cortisol, which is generated by the endocrine system in times of distress. We spend 10 to 15 minutes each class either practicing different breath techniques or in stillness.
Learn something new.
In class you may experience a new understanding of your physical body, or you may recognize a thought pattern that comes up that isn’t serving you, or you may find your favorite post-workout shoulder stretch. Every class I design is centered around practical application of the small things that can be done to build mobility both mentally and physically. I like to build classes like puzzles, so that each piece can be separated from the overall design. My goal is that each person can take at least one element of the practice and incorporate it into their life in order to achieve whatever goals they may have, whether it’s fitness, personal or otherwise.
I often tell my classes, whether you came here to be a better athlete or a better mom, dad, brother, sister, son, daughter, wife, husband, friend, lover… You’ve come to the right place to do that.
The most important thing is that you show up.
Author Bio: Gabrielle Morbitzer grew up living, breathing, eating and sleeping as a competitive athlete. Rehabilitation from a knee surgery closed that chapter and opened up the opportunity to heal through yoga. With mental and physical well-being as her guide, Gabby found a way to reclaim the role of athlete by incorporating Crossfit into her life. She was drawn to it and stuck with it because of the personal power and growth it offers as well as the sense of community that can be found at a great gym.Gabby has over 400 hours of vinyasa yoga training. Her work focuses on building flexibility and strength together to create dynamic and healthy movement patterns, developing an awareness of the relationship between body and breath, and fostering mindfulness in performance.