body isolation resting on toes

The Best Guide To A Complete Body Isolation Workout

1. What is body isolation?

Have you ever witnessed someone moving his head sideway while keeping his body still? Body isolation is the act of selecting a particular section of your body that you will manipulate while other parts of that body remain motionless. Of course, most would probably say that this is not possible. And in a certain way it is true that other parts of your body do move even if it does not look that way. But in essence what you do is dictating your body to act a certain way. Kind of mind over body philosophy.

2. Why is body isolation important?

Body isolation along with flexibility are the gates that separate you from complete ownership of your body. Many athletes focus on their physical conditioning and spend less time on their flexibility and body isolation. They then pay the price later as age mounts on them while their body slumps down. 
However, working on flexibility alone can be the recipe for disaster, especially in activities such as yoga. That’s where body isolation come to play. Before you engage in a physical activity of any sort, doing body isolation exercises will do marvellous things for the health of your body. It will prepare it for what is to come and make sure you created a healthy pre-activity in every parts of your body. Once I did a body isolation demo before a salsa class. One of the students mentioned afterward that a neck pain that had harassed her for while somehow disappeared.

2.1. The command over your body

Whenever you see a dancer do things with his or her body that seems out of this world, you can be sure that he/her has spent lots of time on routines such as body isolation. The way to think about body isolation exercises is to consider the body as either a stiff bar or a modelling clay. And ask yourself “with which material can I create the shapes that I want?”. In essence that’s what body isolation exercises are there for. To allow you to command your body to do what you want when you desire it. 

3. How do you isolate your body?

In order to conduct a proper body isolation, it is important that other parts of your body remain still. For example, if you want to work on the upper parts of your body, you can either stand firmly on your legs while playing with the body parts you want to work on. Or you can seat on a chair while doing the exercise. The point is to make sure that when you move some parts of your body, the other parts stay as still as possible. 
Following are some specific instructions into how to isolate certain areas of your body.

4. How do you isolate your neck?

Neck flexibility is important to avoid issues such as stiff neck or other related neck pains. I found out that working on the isolation of my neck reduced drastically the chances of cervical neck strain. 

4.1.  Body isolation for Neck:

🔵 First your slowly move your head sideways, left to right. You try to extend as far as possible.
🔵 Then you do a similar motion from up to down. Be sure not to do the motion too fast and avoid them all together if you have any injuries (speak to your doctor first).
🔵 Following these two motions, the third exercise is to let your neck drop from one side of the shoulder to the next. Don’t exert force with your hand. Just let it drop as far as it can.
🔵 From there, the fifth exercise consist of “sliding” or “rolling” your head from one side to the other.

4.2.  Comment

At first, you will have the tendency of moving your shoulders either upward or downward, and other parts of your body might move too. Just keep your gaze in front of you and ignore the movements of your body. With time and practice you will see that you are able to move your head while the remaining of your body stays still.

5. Body isolation for the shoulders

This is another important parts of the body I like to work extensively on. I realised it not only helps with my dance movements, but shoulder isolation also helps me avoid serious injuries when I do physical activities such as push-up or handstands.
Similar to the neck isolation exercises, you will stand straight (in front of a mirror if possible). 

5.1. Shoulder roll forward

As you roll one shoulder clockwise, you try and make sure the other one does not move. As a matter of fact, focus on the shoulder that should stay still. Indeed, this will educate your mind to command your body not to move. After a while you change shoulder.

5.2. Backward roll

You start again with the shoulder you first worked on. Only this time you do the movement backward (anticlockwise). After a while you can change side. 

5.3. Shoulder tap

A third exercise for the shoulder consists of creating a “beat the drum” motion with them. You go from backward to forward as if you trying to play the drum with your shoulders. You can stat with the right side. Then, after a while you can change shoulder.

5.4. “I don’t know”

This next exercise could be best described as the lifting of the shoulders when someone ask you a question to which you don’t know the answer. You raise them up then just drop them down. As for the previous exercises you can do it first with one shoulder, then the other one. Finally, you can do both either together or with quick alternance between one shoulder and the other.

6. How do you do chest isolations?

Another section of the body you can work your body isolation on is your chest. First, you keep your body strongly planted on your feet, bending the knee slightly to create pressure with the floor. Then you move your chest forward (as if you were protruding). Then backward (as if someone had punched you and you felt the effects). You then come back forward toward your right. Go back forward in the centre. Finally forward to your left. You then restart the exercise in these four directions, until you feel confident and can execute the move in one big circular motion. 

7. Body isolations for the hips

I love isolating this part as I consider that the basis of all activities starts from the core, hips and manipura chakra. Like with the chest isolation, you move your hips fully to the right while making sure your feet are planted to the floor and your upper parts are in line with your feet. It should look as if your body was cut in 3 parts with the middle part going to the right. You then do the same exercise to the left. Then backward and forward. Once you get a grip of the exercise you can do it in a circular motion. This move definitely looks provocative but I know its secret power when I dance (these are stories for another time). 

8. Other parts of your body you can isolate

I love to stand still on one leg, lift the other one up, and either stretch the lifted leg forward and backward. I can also rotate that it around the knee joints. This small exercise is very effective in helping me avoid injuries while stretching my leg.
Another part of your body you can also isolate are your ankles. Again, this prevent injuries especially if you are dancing or running.

9. Body Isolation-Movements-Flexibility

Body isolation works great with body movement, flexibility, recovery and breathing. In my post on the perfect flexibility routine, I go over a step-by-step guide that will allow you to get a full routine that will help your body tremendously, no matter what physical activity you engage in. 

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