Over the last few years, I have really come to rely upon moving more to help me not only feel good, healthy and well in my body, but also to become more attuned to myself.
For years, my relationship to movement was one of struggle: workout programs, diet fads, or crazy exercise regimens that made me feel like I was closer to broken (or neurotic) than full, whole or well.
Discovering yoga really helped bring me into a happier, healthier relationship with movement.
But I’m not advocating yoga for you, necessarily — this about simply moving more.
And feeling into your body, as often as possible.
Movement has become my meditation and my medicine. It’s how I reset, release and review. Movement is how I process and perceive. When I move, I reclaim a day that’s “gotten away from me.” When I start a day by moving, everything else feels less rushed, more grounded; less frenetic, more deliberate; less out-of-body, more embodied.
Movement has helped me become a better teacher, writer, creative, servant and friend.
I have movement to thank for completely expanding my presence, self-awareness, willpower and creativity.
Just from moving more.
And because I teach these topics, I’m becoming an advocate of the very thing that’s helped me so much lately: Movement.
It may well be the missing link in your self-awareness journey, as it was mine.
Why Does Moving More Matter?
Movement gets you feeling into your body.
The power of feeling more (especially when it means over-thinking less) really can’t be overstated.
I remind my yoga students to surrender from thought-based processing to feeling-based processing at the start of every class I teach. We all tend to be way too heady, ego-oriented and thought-reliant. We tend to only use the mind to perceive, and thus disconnect from feeling-based perception.
Both thought and feeling are equal means of sensing, computing and understanding the human experience — they’re meant to complement one another, not clash or compete. And yet, I’ve met more people who distrust their own emotions and second-guess their intuitive feelings than use them as ways to complement the tools of rationality, logic and reason.
Movement brings feel back into a thought-heavy way of life.
But the really fascinating aspect of movement is what happens on subtle levels of the body, mind and heart.
Movement is manipulating energy.
The cells of our bodies — being made up of nothing more than energy, ourselves — have to respond to movement. It really is magic, when you think about it. Our physical being cannot remain as it was before. When we move, change occurs.
Movement is shifting energy and creating change at will. When we move, we begin to sculpt a new reality from the one we’ve decided is ready for change.
It’s why I can’t help but incorporate periods of movement — even subtle, non-strenuous movement — into my everyday life, from taking daily walks (even in winter) to practicing yoga. Movement of my body facilitates necessary changes: aligning and integrating my head and heart into the ideal states that I desire to experience.
Today, my daily movement practices are as simple as:
- 10 minutes of seated breathing in the morning. Even though I’m seated (as if meditating), I consider the deliberate, conscious movement of breath (or pranayama, “breath retention”) to be a form of movement, albeit subtle.
- Walking outside on a trail or at a local park. Just 20 or 40 minutes in the middle of a day is enough to completely reset whatever the day has become, and to reclaim the afternoon as I need to or want to.
- Taking (or even teaching) a yoga class. In just 75 or 90 minutes, I feel tension melt away, my breath and heart-rate stabilize, my brain activity heighten. Life just feels so much damn better, all around.
As you can see, my practices are not about burning calories. Subtle-body movement is about embodiment. It’s about embracing your mind-body connection and finding access points into your full potential.
There’s more and more scientific evidence that supports the connections between yoga, meditation, and other forms of movement for…
- Increasing brain activity,
- Developing grey matter in the brain (central to the function of the nervous system),
- Strengthening the immune system (by flushing the lymphatic system), and,
- Counter-acting mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.
…which are all clearly incredible indications for moving more!
Regardless of what you’re hoping to achieve, simply moving — or moving-meditating, as with yoga — is enough to make you feel better, and in turn, live better.
After You’ve Moved, the Movement Lasts
Manipulating your own energy contains a lasting effect: it seems to stick with you.
I remember the first time I went to acupuncture — I desperately needed it. I felt my energy was stuck, static and stagnant. I felt kind of like a mess, honestly. After my acupuncture session, I felt alive again. The sensation of total embodiment only lasted for a couple hours. Speaking with my acupuncturist in Providence a week or so later, he described the “bounce back” sensation, saying that, over time, the longer the positive effects of acupuncture would last — and the less dramatic the “bounce back” effect would be.
Imagine cranking a hand motor, or stirring a pot of water. After the initial effort to get momentum going, the action takes on a life of its own.
It may last only a few minutes, but after that first fighting effort to move, the movement self-sustains.
After having moved, my ability to express myself fully and completely is a breeze. There’s less fighting effort from my mind, and more of a simple, emotive response from my body — all I really need to do is get out of my own way, and be a conduit. After having moved, conversations feel lighter and easier. To Do lists fall by the wayside and the “one, next, single step” of what truly needs to be accomplished appears, front and center.
I’ve been spending more and more time exploring the direct connections between movement and self-expression: how yoga can help facilitate effortless self-expression; how breath and body movement enhance creative energy.
This is one of the reasons why I’m deliberately connecting the two — using yoga to help self-expression — in various workshops, conferences and retreat experiences that I’ve been teaching in the last 2-3 years.
I’d love to know, what are your personal experiences with creativity, self-expression, writing, and overall embodiment after “having moved”?
When you manipulate your own energy, what feels lighter, easier, simpler?
P.S. — My friend Amy Clover, who is a fitness instructor and health coach, masterfully uses movement to help enhance quality of life — and counteract the effects of mental-emotional disorders like anxiety and depression. As a near-suicide survivor herself, I really admire and respect the work Amy does to inspire health and wellness through movement, from the inside out. Check out her newest program here (affil link).