Three ways to move more mindfully
Much of our life is spent sitting, whether at work, commuting, watching tv, eating food or even being creative. This means our bodies become accustomed to falling into the same movement patterns regularly. Perhaps it’s time we start thinking about encouraging a daily useful movement regime in our lives. This is even more important now that we are faced with a world-wide pandemic as the Corona Virus (COVID19) is bringing each of us to a stand still in some way.
The word exercise can sometimes put people off. It can certainly be intimidating to go to the gym, where you might be surrounded by lots of strangers, all striving to look and feel a certain way. Yoga and pilates classes are different in that they encourage a more mindful approach with our movement and to take care of ourselves, but even the thought of going to a group yoga class is scary for some.
I was originally asked to write this article for my local village publication in conjunction with ThatCounts, a Greater Manchester initiative encouraging people to move for 30 minutes a day. Fast forward a month and we are all experiencing a UK government lockdown and have been advised to socially distance ourselves from others outside of our own home. Perhaps now is a good time for you to consider introducing some healthy, mindful movement based practices into your every day? Apart from those that we live with already, for the foreseeable future It’s not going to be possible for us to exercise with others, go to the gym or attend a local yoga class. Whilst there are many online offerings (including my own yoga classes) I’d like to offer a few ways for us to cultivate a movement based practice into our daily lives that you could do at home and within your local environment.
We’ve been advised to exercise for up to 30 minutes daily. Below are 3 ways to incorporate a more mindful movement based practice into your daily regime.
Cultivating a mindful and healthy movement practice will not only encourage your muscles to do a little more work, it will boost your mood, increase your energy levels and have a profound effect on your overall fitness and wellbeing.
1. Stretch daily
Regular stretching helps to keep muscles healthy, strong and flexible and it is also crucial in maintaining joint mobility. The morning is the best time to stretch. Getting up 15 minutes earlier than you normally would will allow for a regular morning stretch routine. Not only will your body feel looser, you may notice that you feel a little more relaxed in your mind too, because slow stretching forces you to slow down. Notice the sensations in your body, pay attention to how you feel. The NHS share a short morning stretch routine which is accessible and informative, I’ll be sharing a 15 minute routine with you next week. As with any movement based practice, appreciate where you are physically, be aware of sensations of pain or discomfort and only stretch within a range that feels useful to you.
Follow your stretching routine with a short brisk walk. Walking can do wonders for our mood and energy levels. No matter what age or level of fitness, walking is good for your joints, your heart and your head! If you really don’t fancy it, challenge yourself to very short 10 minute ‘micro-walks’ every day, only building this up to 30 minutes once you’re ready. Try mixing up your pace or going up a hill. Slow your pace down at times, pause to take in the views as you go and document it with your camera, phone or notepad.
3. Connect with nature
When you’ve taken the time to walk to your favourite spot, find a place to stand or sit and just observe nature around you. This could be in a woodland, parkland, on a hillside or even in your garden. Tune into the sound of birdsong, feel the breeze on your skin, notice any smells, and be aware of any sounds in the distance. Then start zooming in on what’s right in front of you. Spend a few moments before looking further out towards the treetops. What do you see when you really start to look? There is evidence to suggest people who spend two hours a week in green spaces are substantially more likely to report good physical and emotional wellbeing. Not only will this help to clear the mind, you’ll feel restored physically and inspired by the sheer wonder of nature.
Tie all 3 of these practices together and you will have moved for around 30-45 minutes in total, connected with nature and found some stillness in your body. I hope that you feel invigorated and inspired as you go forwards with your day.
I recommend that whatever you choose to do, you approach it mindfully. This way you not only move your muscles but you cultivate a level of self-awareness. Bring your awareness to the specific sensations in your body as you move over and over again. Take your time to be in the present moment by noticing physical changes and movements. In doing so you’ll have a greater overall sense of your self both physically and mentally.
This is a time for us to take special care of ourselves, for us to listen inwardly, and to be there for others when they need us most. I do hope you are keeping well and safe and are finding the time you need for yourself. If you have any comments or questions about this article do contact me. Look out for my morning stretch routine, which I’ll be sharing with you next time, and if you’d like to practice yoga with me you still can. I’m now offering two weekly online classes with the possibility of setting up a third. You can find out everything you need to know by visiting my online class page.
With love and light, thank you!