Moving is something we all do and (if you’re anything like me) something we all do quite badly! Learning to move in a mindful way can be a source of great benefit for your body an also your mind. And it really is something we can all try.
Mindful movements are gentle stretches and strengthening exercises done very, very slowly with awareness of your breathing and the sensations in your body. It’s done with a “non-striving” attitude – meaning, it’s not a competition and you’re not trying to achieve a contortionist dream!
The idea of mindful movements is to bring awareness to your body as you move. It’s not exercise or a sport, but an exercise in noticing. Noticing enables you to have more awareness of your body in everyday life – bringing awareness to walking, bending, reaching and lifting.
When I first tried mindful movements, after a few practices I realised that I was almost completely subconsciously blocking awareness of my legs. It was a strange sensation but made sense having sustained leg injuries in my early 20s. This realisation was really helpful in bringing my mind to focus on reconnecting with them and kind of re-joining my whole body.
Mindful movements, is not strict it can be done in different ways – so for example, if you are in pain or feel pain in a movement you can alter the movements (so instead of standing, maybe sitting or lying down), or just skip that movement. For me I am just unable to the “Bodysway” – my ankles just don’t like it! Another option is to imagine carrying out the movement, without physically moving – which can be a really powerful feeling. Also, if like me you tend to push yourself too far at times notice this and adjust. Or if you are someone who may benefit from doing a little more, notice this and adjust.
The main ‘rule’ is to move with your breath, rather than tensing or holding your breath (like me, from giving this a go you may notice how much of your day you spend holding your breath!). Your breath should be smooth and rhythmical. As you undertake the movements, remain present with your body and how it feels, if your mind drifts (and it will!) just kindly and gently bring yourself back to your breathing and your body, and let any thoughts drift away like litter in a breeze (that part really does take practice, so go easy on yourself it takes time.)
Mindful movements can be done as a practiced routine each morning but bringing just a couple of these movements into your day is a good place to start. And you may well, already be doing versions of this. For example, the “arm-reach” is probably what you do when you get your bowl out of a cupboard at breakfast, just do this at a slower pace than usual and focus on your breath (in and out) and the movement. I like to do the “roll-down” when I’m putting the washing on the line, again slowing down my usual pace and focusing on my breath, how my body feels and how it’s moving. Goodness knows what the neighbours think! But who cares!
You can definitely find Mindful Movement videos on Youtube, so do give it a go – but please be gentle and mindful of what your body can do, and what it needs:
- Hiliarious 10 Mindful Movements video(!): https://youtu.be/E-gEO12BVNU
- Mindful Movement video (15 mins): https://youtu.be/kdxJF92CaS4
Thank you for reading. Stay home, stay safe and take care.