More and more, I find myself becoming an advocate for movement.
(Not necessarily yoga. Not even “working out.” Just movement.)
Why is because, over the last few years, I have really come to rely upon movement to help me not only feel good, healthy and well in my body… but also to become a better version of myself.
For a while, I struggled with my relationship with movement because I used to associate the word “movement” to mean workout programs, diet fads or crazy exercise regimens that made me feel like I was closer to death than full, whole or well.
Yoga helped bring me into a happier, healthier relationship with movement.
But this really isn’t about yoga — it’s about simply moving more.
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 Movement Matters
The first and most practical reason why movement matters because it gets you feeling into your body. This 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.
Our culture is way too heady, ego-based and thought-oriented: overly reliant on the mind and disconnected from feelings. I’ve experienced more people who distrust their own emotions and second-guess their intuition than use them as ways to complement rationality, logic and reason (hell, I’ve experienced it myself).
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.
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.
Movement is giving yourself the chance to reap the subtle but powerful effects of what happens when you move more.
This ain’t about calorie counting.
It’s about embracing your mind-body connection… and utilizing the fullest extent of your potential.
That’s why movement is so powerful for facilitating writing, creativity and self-expression.
There’s more and more scientific evidence arising 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 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
Here’s my favorite reason to move more: it seems to stick with you.
After you’ve moved, the movement lasts.
In other words, the effect lingers. Manipulating your own energy contains a lasting effect
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. Somewhere between stoned (I’ve never been stoned), or having just had great sex. The sensation of total embodiment only lasted for a couple hours. After, I wanted more acupuncture. 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.
What you do in the wake of “having moved” is entirely up to you.
But realize this: it’s a really special opportunity.
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).