Mindfulness through Movement

Exercise in general is great for our wellbeing. It doesn’t have to be a crazy high impact workout – even something as simple as a 10 minute walk can do the trick. If you enjoy your chosen exercise you are more likely to do it regularly so pick something you like doing. Don’t put yourself under even more pressure by picking a form of exercise that you feel you ought to do rather than you want to do.

Mindful movement is generally slow and quite simple but requires attention to detail in it’s execution. Movement that challenges your balance, particularly with eyes closed, is very helpful in being mindful.

Yoga, Qui Gong  and Tai Chi are excellent types of mindful movement and there are plenty of classes around and examples online to try.

But you don’t have to go to a class or follow just one discipline.

Image: Fezbot 2000

Try these exercises to focus your mind and body.

Take a breath of 5 counts  in and out in each position:

  1. Stand with feet together, arms by side and close eyes.
  2. Put your right foot directly in front of the left as if standing on a tightrope. Keep both legs straight and your head looking directly forward, not down.
  3. Now scissor the right leg across the left keeping the soles of both feet on the floor. Keep your weight central and squeeze the inside of your thighs together to create a sense of lift through the centre of your body.
  4. Go back to position 2.
  5. Go back to position 1.
  6. Repeat with the left leg.

Extra challenge: lift the knee to a right angle and hold between position 2 & 3

This is a great one if you have been spending too much time on a laptop or computer.

  1. Sitting or standing cross your straight right arm over the left in front of you – the higher up the arms can cross the better.
  2. Wrap the lower arms around each other – aiming to get the palms f the hands together. You will feel a lovely pulling of your back muscles open.
  3. In this position lift the elbows and move the palms away from the face.
  4. Repeat as many times as feels good.

Extra challenge: In this position slowly rotate the arms clockwise and then anti clockwise to release around the neck.

Try on the other side.

Image: Steve Halama

Next time you wait for the kettle to boil stand on one leg. Can you close your eyes?

Use the other leg next time.

  1. Stand in a wide star shape
  2. Turn both feet to the left
  3. Staying as open as possible tilt down to the left – your left hand might reach your left leg.
  4. Bend the left knee to get your left hand on the floor
  5. Reach your left hand slightly further forward and straighten the left leg – your right leg will lift from the floor.

Extra challenge:  Can you keep your hip bones facing forwards? (this will open your hips)  Can you raise the right leg in line with your hip

Come down carefully from this position -the best way is to reverse the whole process.

Now try going to the right.

Tip: you can work towards this balance by practicing it with the back foot pushing into a wall. This makes the balancing much easier until you feel more confident.

There’s loads of research to show that 10 minutes of doing something pleasurable for yourself can decrease your overall anxiety level. And if you exercise regularly — at least 3 times a week — you’re less likely to feel anxious in the first place.

Unplug yourself when using Mindfulness through Movement. No headphones, no ipod, no phone.