We define Natural Movement as those foundational movements that all humans are innately capable of. Walking and running of course, but also crawling, jumping, balancing, throwing, catching, carrying, and lifting. But if we are all innately capable of such movement skills, why practice them? Shouldn't we all be able to do them?
As children, before we are sent off to school to sit for hours a day without moving in chairs, this was simply the way we moved. Had we been permitted to continue to move like this through our lives, we would have grown to be skilled and skillful movers simply by engaging in the activities that kept us alive. There was no need to schedule a sprint workout- it just happened on the occasion that an individual needed to flee danger. We didn't have to work on our deep squat; years of foraging for food would have insured that we never lost our ability to squat in the first place.
In modern culture though, with deconditioned bodies best adapted for hours of chair sitting, this is no longer the case. We no longer need to move to survive. And yet, moving is intimately tied to our health. So we must struggle to make time in our busy lives to exercise. If you struggle to make time to "exercise,'' this is not a personal failing, but a rather a cultural one. Movement and survival were never supposed to be uncoupled.
Since we no longer live in natural environments, we've created artificial movement in artificial environments in a misguided attempt to reforge the bond between movement and health. We may no longer need to sprint away from being attacked by a wild animal, instead we spend hours on a treadmill, vainly trying to out run a heart attack.
There is the usual argument that training Natural Movement develops multi-planar, more complex movement. This leads to greater joint stability and mobility. But that's a rather clinical perspective. While it appeals to logic, it does not appeal to the heart of the matter. No one wakes up thinking, "I can't wait to train multi-planar complex movements for better joint stability and mobility today!"
Practicing Natural Movement however, does help us reconnect movement with our survival and in so doing, becomes much more compelling. Most students of Natural Movement remark on how imminently practical the skills they practice are. If nothing else, it enables them to play with their kids more effectively. But play is how animals learn, practice, and grew stronger in their movement skills- for the moments when it is all on the line.
A caveat here: survival wasn't always about fighting or fleeing. That notion is more a product of modern culture's heroic romanticism. We do call them hunter and gatherers, after all. Practicing Natural Movement can prepare one for important survival skills like being able to efficiently squat down and pick an herb or a mushroom- and then efficiently get back up and continue on. Simply being able to get one's body off the floor efficiently has been positively correlated with survival in geriatric populations.
And that is the deeper allure of the practice of Natural Movement. It awakens something deep in our DNA- the intimate, primal connection of movement and survival. It reminds us that it is not only fun to move our bodies this way, but absolutely necessary. It provides a more profound emotional reward than a number on scale or pants size. It is the tie to our past and our lifeline to the future of our species.