Movement and physical activity of all kinds can be an act of self-love. They lead to more energy, focus, and strength — and can also improve our sense of wellbeing. Movement is also an opportunity to reconnect the mind with the body. A regular, dedicated workout can be a wonderful thing, offering us not only growth and improvement, but a practice in discipline. We have endless benefits to reap from making moving a playful, easeful part of how we live. If the idea of a "workout" creates resistance for you, we invite you to remove the pressure of labels. Either way, let's explore movement as a gift to our body and mind. As a way of life — no matter how significant or small. How can we make movement a form of play?
Wherever you are now, don't set the bar too high for yourself — moving for just a minute or two is better than nothing at all!
If you've struggled in the past with regular workouts and movement, but want to incorporate more of it into daily life, take note of where you might be hitting those walls. What intimidates you or holds you up when trying something new, or sticking with something challenging? Do you need more accountability, or less pressure? There may be barriers there that you can help break down for yourself in advance. Make a plan with a friend to go to the gym together. Sign up online for a workout class. Find a community around movement, like an Acroyoga class that meets weekly. And consider setting up your home or workspace to support healthy, ergonomic work and play. Maybe place your yoga mat in an accessible corner of the living room. Try a standing desk for a day by elevating your workstation with a sturdy stack of books. Take work breaks to dance, walk, stretch, or simply breathe. If you'd like to try walking or biking for errands or commutes, make sure you plan out your commute time in advance, set your favorite walking shoes by the front door, and have your bike tuned up and ready to ride — that way, when the time comes, the stars will already be aligned and you'll be on your way!
Movement is also an opportunity to reconnect the mind with the body.
Everyday movement doesn't have to be planned, either. It can be spontaneous! Put on a fun song. We can dance our way from room to room, dance around our kitchens while waiting for water to boil, or even take our dancing out into the garden or porch. (Your neighbors will love it, promise!) Try some squats, balance on one leg, or do a spring while picking something up. Walk on a different part of your feet. Do a stretch — make it an excuse to stand up, an excuse to lie down, or even just a way to readjust where you're already sitting. We all love to bring our groceries into the house in as few trips as possible— but what if, instead, we did it one bag at a time, and savored the extra steps across the front lawn or through the garage?
Let’s explore some ways to get more functional movement in your day. Try a walking meeting instead of a sitting one — or a walking phone call. Or take a short walk after lunch or dinner — many people find this habit improves their digestion, and it can also be a great, screen-free way to spend quality time with your family or friends. Something we don't often do anymore as adults but certainly evolved to do, is to sit on the ground. Try sitting on the floor the next time you watch TV, fold laundry, pet an animal, or sort the mail, and while you're down there, do a little stretch or two. We spend most of our time sitting in an elevated position. Getting up and down off the floor is actually a great indicator of health and longevity. You can also fold laundry standing up! Or, put on your shoes or socks while standing on one leg at a time, which is excellent practice for your coordination and balance. Try squatting, turning, kneeling, or twisting instead of simply bending over when getting things out of the kitchen or bathroom cupboards. If you're feeling ambitious the next time you mop the floor, skip the broom handle and go for the VERY old-fashioned way — on hands and knees, a great way to stretch and work on strength. Indoors and outdoors, try stepping up and over objects like rocks, fire hydrants, or even laundry baskets — great for the hip flexors. And, make a funny face! Give the muscles in your face a workout with a HUGE smile, exaggerated frown, or raised lips and eyebrows. You might make someone laugh — even if it's just yourself!
If you've struggled in the past with regular workouts and movement, but want to incorporate more of it into daily life, take note of where you might be hitting those walls.
Traveling? Skip the moving walkway at the airport, and take the stairs instead of the escalator. Once you've found your gate, give yourself a tour of the airport if you have time instead of settling into a seat at the bar. If you're at a hotel, request a room on the second, third, or fourth floor — somewhere high enough to use the stairs but not so high you'll need the elevator. If you're feeling adventurous, go on a walking tour of the city or town you're in (just do your research first on safety!), check out a local workout class, or book a surf lesson or waterfall hike.
Feeling challenged by your go-to movement?
Make it beautiful! Look up your location on Google Earth and scope out possible green spaces near where you live. Take yourself running at a local trail instead of the treadmill or sidewalk. Do your yoga and stretching in a local park or green space.
Give the muscles in your face a workout with a HUGE smile, exaggerated frown, or raised lips and eyebrows. You might make someone laugh — even if it's just yourself!
Make it fun! Playgrounds aren't just for kids — when was the last time you tried the monkey bars? Try a dance class if you're looking for something more structured with other participants nearer your own age. Zumba, Oula, Rumba, Swing, Hip-Hop, and even unstructured ecstatic dance are wonderful ways to move your body and self-express. Go to the pool and let loose your inner mermaid — not necessarily to lap swim, but to jump off the diving board or explore the floaty toys. Or embrace your badass self with kickboxing or other martial arts, which usually offer great welcome and intro classes for first-timers. Being a beginner and remembering not to take ourselves so seriously, especially when it comes to movement, is a beautiful way to refresh our mindset and revive our wellbeing.
Explore the question: What does it feel like for me, if movement isn't all-or-nothing but more like play?
Whether we're literally dancing or not, movement is a dance between body and mind, connected by breath and sensation. It should make us feel good. Pay attention to how you feel mentally and physically, before, during, and after your movement.
Wherever you are now, don't set the bar too high for yourself — moving for just a minute or two is better than nothing at all! Recognizing the bio-individuality of your physical body, and the whispers from your energetic body, are vital in moving both mindfully and successfully. Not only are we different and distinct from others — and the methods, speeds, and intensity of their movements — but we ourselves are constantly changing. The way you feel each day will shift — and year to year, very much so. Honoring your fitness personality, interests, and personal wellbeing is an important part of the journey. Not everyone is a "gym person," runner or lifter, morning person, or working-out-together person. It can be very positive and transformative to gain a sense of identity from your movement practice. But if it doesn't feel good to either identify with or feel set apart from a specific movement practice or identity, don't pressure yourself to feel any specific way. It doesn't matter what movement is called — it matters how it makes us feel.
Being a beginner and remembering not to take ourselves so seriously, especially when it comes to movement, is a beautiful way to refresh our mindset and revive our wellbeing.
Shake it out. Right now, if you can! Stand up and give your whole body a big shake — even your lips. Inhale, exhale. How does that feel? Shaking is a natural instinct we share with other fauna, with our wild and domesticated animal brothers and sisters. It can help regulate the nervous system, reduce overstimulation, relieve stress, and calm the body. Then afterward, breathe. Just spending time with big, strong belly breaths, little sips of breath, or deep, slow breaths can be a movement practice — especially if we let it reunite us with our physical bodies.
Recognizing the bio-individuality of your physical body, and the whispers from your energetic body, are vital in moving both mindfully and successfully.
What kind of movement are you feeling these days? Fun, playful, soothing, intense?
Whatever movement you choose to do, let it be an invitation to tune back into how your body is feeling. What sensations do you experience when you move that way? When you stretch this direction? Emotions are held in the body, and mindfully moving our physical being can give us a pathway to feeling, acknowledging, releasing, and healing. And if we take that even further, movement reminds us to love our bodies for all they let us do and experience. While age and injury can change how we comfortably self-express and self-experience through movement, we always have opportunities to tune into our senses. How the breeze and sunshine, or even rain feels on our skin when we're on a walk. How rolling our hips makes us feel alive, sensual, and playful. How a stretch can open not just our ligaments but our hearts, and remind us of the vastness around and within. Before we begin, we can self-honor by getting quiet and listening to what wisdom our body has to share. We can move proactively rather than reactively. We can move in gratitude and in joy. And we can make movement our lifelong friend.