When you’ve lost your sense of joy for activity or feel out of sync with your body, mindful movement is exactly what you need to get back to feeling your best.
As a Physical Therapist and Pilates Practitioner, I know that the biggest results come when clients learn to feel what’s happening in their bodies as they move. Whether you’re healing from an injury or wanting to improve your level of fitness, connecting with your body creates the awareness needed to make changes in all aspects of your life.
Mindful movement lets you get in touch with your body and all the messages it’s sending you.
It’s how you know you’re alive. Mind and body are intrinsically linked and must be in harmony for optimum well-being, physically and emotionally.
Center yourself by moving with awareness!
Any activity where your attention is focused on controlling what you’re doing and how you’re feeling is mindful. Practices such as Pilates, Tai Chi, and Yoga emphasize this. But, any time you’re moving your body, you have an opportunity to practice mindfulness.
The key is to feel everything; be aware of all sensations coming in and flowing through you.
When I’m feeling my best, my body moves with ease; I’m relaxed and calm – in the flow of life. As a kid, it was gymnastics that connected my body and spirit. Now, that I’m much, much older, running is my thing. When I run, I’m centered and grounded – I feel free! Even the toughest runs are rejuvenating.
I recently had a chance to run some trail through the beautiful red rocks of Sedona, Arizona. Pure bliss! In the early morning at sunrise, just me and the trail in one of the most scenic parts of the country. It lifted my soul. I was filled with a sense of peace. The rocky terrain demanded concentration. I was completely aware of my breathing and my heart rate, focused on where I placed my feet, how I adjusted my balance and how fast I could fly downhill. There wasn’t a single moment where I let my thoughts drift off – my mind was present at every second. Partly to make sure I stayed upright, but mostly because it just felt so amazing.
And that’s the thing when you’re moving with your whole essence, mind, and body; it feels good. Humans are built for movement and it only makes sense that it should bring us joy. Running does that for me, but for you, it might be something else – dancing, walking, and weight lifting. It’s anything you love to do that involves movement.
However, doing what you love doesn’t automatically make it mindful. Moving well requires you to tune in, stop thinking and start feeling. Bring some mindfulness to your activities by following these tips:
Expand awareness into your body.
Before you begin any activity, spend a few moments taking notice of how your body feels, scan through from head to toe. Become aware of any areas of tension, discomfort or pain.
Focus on your breath.
Your breath is the bridge between your body and mind. Synchronize your breathing with your movement to start connecting inward. Find a breathing pattern that fits how you’re moving. During Pilates sessions, I often have clients begin with the breath. As they start an inhalation or exhalation, the movement follows and becomes an extension of the breath.
Also, become aware of times when you might be holding your breath, this is more common than you might think.
Move with intention.
Direct your focus to the sensation of movement. Try this the next time you go for a walk, feel what’s happening through your arms as they swing. Don’t try to change anything yet, just notice. Is there tension in your shoulders? Does your torso rotate freely or feel stiff? Feel it for a while. Now, see where you can relax and soften. How does that change your movement? Do you feel balanced? Continue making small adjustments as you go; your intention is to walk with ease and awareness.
Mindful movement can be applied to everything you do.
With awareness, you’ll be able to make choices that keep you moving at your best. When you create a deep sense of connection with your body through mindful movement, you’ll have more confidence, be healthier, have less stress, and be more centered.
You’ll not only feel your best; you’ll become your best!