If you follow me on instagram, you’ll see that I often run classes or workshops that revolve around Mindful Movement. And so I thought I’d share more about what Mindful Movement is and why it’s so beneficial for our well-being. Let’s dive in!
Teaching Pilates classes weekly over a number of years now, I’ve had a group of core clients who’ve taken many of my classes. Even though I make every class quite different from the previous one, it still means that my clients have repeated a lot of the same movements throughout the last few years. If you’ve ever attended the same type of exercise class multiple times, you’ll know what I mean. Anyone who’s done yoga has done the downward dog countless times over, right?
Physical and mental benefits
What happens when we do the same movement over and over again? We become familiar with it and comfortable doing it – not bad things in themselves. It’s likely though, that we’re going to eventually do that movement on autopilot, not thinking about the movement as we’re doing it, tuning out of our body and into somewhere else. We may still get the physical benefit of doing the movement, but we’re likely to experience less of the mental benefit.
Presence and inner peace
When we’re able to stay present with the movement and our bodies, we’re not stressing out about our to-do list or the presentation we have to nail the next day. We’re present in the moment, experiencing at least a glimpse of inner peace. This is mindful movement.
Let’s define it a little further.
Mindful movement is a practice, like doing yoga is a practice. It combines movement of the body with mindfulness. The intention is to bring awareness and focus to the body and the sensations experienced during movement.
It’s about being present with the body. This involves observing the breath, the quality of movement, and bodily sensations, such as tension, pain, fluttering, or softness. This often means the movement is slow and gentle.
The concept of mindful movement draws inspiration from various disciplines, including yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, and other mind-body practices. It encourages those practicing to cultivate a deeper connection between the mind and body, building awareness and promoting overall well-being.
I use the word “encourages” because this deeper connection is only cultivated if we’re intentionally trying to stay present in the moment. Just practicing, without that intention, isn’t doing mindful movement and isn’t as likely to contribute to greater body awareness.
In my mindful movement sessions, I use a blend of movements from both yoga and Pilates. I also add my own twist to each session, using my Pilates, mindfulness and physiotherapy knowledge. Throughout my class, I’m frequently cueing participants to be present with the movement, and with their body. I often sound like a broken record to myself but the repetition is for a reason. Each of us will lose connection to our body and to the present moment multiple times during a mindful movement class. My reminders help to anchor us back in the moment.
The benefits of Mindful Movement
Body Awareness and Mind-Body Connection
Firstly, mindful movements helps us develop a greater sense of body awareness and to enhance our mind-body connection. Mindful movement allows us to become more attuned to the subtle movements, tensions, and sensations within our bodies, fostering a deeper understanding of our physical selves.
Reduced stress and anxiety
Mindful movement can help reduce stress and anxiety. By focusing on the present moment and the physical sensations, we can temporarily detach from the stressors and distractions of daily life, bringing a sense of calm and relaxation from within ourselves.
Balance, flexibility and strength
Though gentle, mindful movement facilitates the development of balance, flexibility, and strength. Through deliberate and mindful engagement in movement patterns, we work on our coordination, posture, and overall physical fitness.
Mental clarity and concentration
Mindful movement has the potential to enhance mental clarity and concentration. By directing attention to the movements and sensations in the body, we can cultivate a focused and grounded state of mind, leading to improved cognitive function.
Overall, mindful movement offers a holistic approach to physical activity, combining the benefits of exercise with mindfulness principles. It provides an opportunity to connect with our body, cultivate self-awareness, and promote a sense of well-being and balance in both mind and body.