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How to Move from Stressed to Blessed!

By Astrid Longhurst November 09, 2022 Lifestyle

I began my early career as a dancer. I loved the feeling that moving my body gave me. All the worries of the day would disappear as soon as I started moving. Nothing mattered in those moments. All that existed was the music, the sound of my breath and my body gently stretching and opening up – releasing any stress, tension or tightness.

At 62, I still adore to move. Even though I have had Arthritis for over 20 years, I still find ways to connect with my body and enjoy the beautiful feeling that moving mindfully and meaningfully gives me.

In terms of looking after your mental health, mindful movement can be a powerful and effective way to help you to move out of stress. It helps you to connect with your body in a way which promotes inner peace and balance. It can also help to strengthen your resilience and boost your self-esteem.

The Benefits of Mindful Movement

When you bring your awareness to your body and your breathing in a way that focuses on a specific movement, you activate your parasympathetic nervous system. This influences things like your heart rate, blood pressure and the fight, flight or freeze response.

This is powerful because it means that we can change our emotional state of being from the inside out. For me, this is self-love in action and it feels so empowering.

Mindful Movement Guidelines

  • Always make sure that your body is warm before you move or stretch.
  • Wear loose, easy-fitting clothes that you feel comfortable in.
  • Do the movements in bare feet if you possibly can as this helps to give you full extension through your feet and helps to connect you with the earth.
  • Move slowly.
  • Never force a movement and only go as far as you are comfortable.
  • Breathe gently into the area that you are moving. Try not to hold your breath.
  • Never bounce a stretch.
  • Stop if anything hurts or feels wrong – listen to your beautiful body.
  • As you move, think about creating space in your body. Allow your stretches and movements to flow gently and easily.
  • Notice how your body feels in a non-judgemental way. Simply become curious about what happens in your body when you move mindfully.
  • Be aware of any points of tension and simply breathe into them with a focus on being kind.
  • Be in the moment.

Move in “Baby Steps”

Like every movement practice, it can take time to really embody and relax into the experience. Be kind with yourself. Notice your inner self-talk. If you find that your thoughts are resistant, simply thank the thought for its opinion and tell it that you are in the process of really looking after yourself and continue with your practice anyway.

Making space for ourselves can often be the most challenging thing to do, and we may make excuses why it’s not convenient to do our movement practice. This often comes from a habitual way of being and thinking.

The key is to build small movements into your daily routine. For example, just doing the “breathing in peace” movement for a couple of minutes can be enough to generate a state of calm within you. Don’t push yourself, encourage yourself instead and take “baby steps” along the way.

Enjoy These 5 Gentle Mindful Movements.

Each mindful movement is designed to promote ease and relaxation for your mind, body and soul. As you practice these movements, allow yourself to be curious about the way your body feels. Take time to really connect with your body and love the feeling the movements give you.

Breathing in Peace (For Deep Inner Peace and Calm)

Stand or sit with your spine long and shoulders wide and down. Gently and softly, bring both hands up towards your heart area as you breathe in for two counts through your nose. Turn your palms over and float your hands down whilst breathing out through your mouth on a long gentle sigh.

Repeat for around 8 times or as many as you feel comfortable with. This mindful movement helps to calm your nervous system whilst promoting feelings of deep peace.

Calming the Waters (Helps to Calm Emotional Turbulence and Promote Inner Calm)

Stand or sit so that you are comfortable. Imagine that you are in the middle of the most beautiful lake. The water is calm and warm and flows gently around your hips. You feel safe and supported by the water which sparkles softly as you move.

Bring both hands to your hip area and move your hands around your hips, lower back and belly in a calming action. Your palms are facing downwards. Imagine that you are gently “swooshing” your hands through the water in a slow calming motion. Breathe slowly and fully, directing your breath down towards your lower belly. Repeat this flowing movement for as long as you feel comfortable.

Calling in Your Joy (Helps to Promote Feelings of Expansion, Freedom, New Possibilities and Joy)

Stand or sit. Breathe in and raise both your arms up from the sides of your body until they are above your head and stretching out into a “high V” shape. Keep the palms of your hands open and facing upwards. Look up as if you are looking at the sky and allow a small smile to spread from your lips.

Breathe normally and imagine that you are welcoming in more possibilities and more joy into your life. Keep your arms open and imagine yourself receiving everything you need. The body “reads” this movement as feeling abundant, free and buoyant. Hold the position for 30 seconds or longer.

The Heart Hug (Helps to Reassure, Soothe, Comfort and Generate More Self-Love)

Stand or sit and gently place your right hand on your left shoulder and your left hand on your right shoulder. Close your eyes and breathe into your heart area whilst gently moving your hands up and down your arms as if you are reassuring yourself.

Just this simple loving movement helps us to feel safe, supported and loved. As you perform this movement, gently say in your head, “I am safe, I am supported, I am loved.” Stay with this beautiful mindful movement as long as you need to.

Clearing Your Path (Helps to Create a Sense of Feeling Safe and Free to Move Forwards in Your Life in an Easy Way)

Stand or sit. Bring both hands to your solar plexus area with both palms touching each other and your fingers pointed forward. Inhale and stretch both arms forward into the space in front of you. Exhale and turn your palms so that they are facing outwards and gently sweep your arms out to the sides.

Return to the starting position and repeat the movement. The key is to imagine that, as your hands and arms come forward, they are clearing a space in front of you – as if you are clearing clouds away from your path. Move slowly and softly, imagining that you are gently clearing away any obstacles in an easy and gentle manner. Repeat around 8 times.

I hope you enjoy these lovely mindful movements.

For more daily inspiration, please join me on Instagram. I would love to have your company!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you feel in need of stress relief? What are your favourite ways to help you feel relaxed, rejuvenated and replenished?

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Jane Anastasio

I love the the emotional release and calm that you have expressed in your article. I practice contemporary dance weekly and the stretches, technique, strengthening exercises and choreography are truly therapeutic for the mind body and soul. I am fully committed to this class and rarely miss it.

Teresita Abad

Hi! Everyone needs a stress reliever, especially at this age and time. Yours is wonderfully discussed and explained. I wish I could do this myself. Keep sharing.

Bethany

This is one of the best articles that I’ve read! I agree 100%. From age 25 to 50, I was immersed in Middle Eastern Dances, both folkloric and traditional belly dance. I recall working through many emotions while dancing and releasing a lot of frustration, sorrow, as well as sharing joy and freedom of movement. I am no longer flexible enough to dance for an audience, but I can move gently to old favorite melodies.

Devamarga Goldy

I love your description of how dance opens your mind , body and spirit . The exercises you shared are beautiful and the movement ones would become a dance when accompanied by favorite music .
I came into this life to dance . I’m never going to stop . My body is in her 60’s and attitude over aptitude is where it’s at !

The Author

Astrid Longhurst is the Founder of the Institute for Body Confidence Coaching, Author, Energy Fitness & Body Confidence Expert. Astrid’s signature Body Confidence programmes help women to fall in love with their bodies. Her vision is to shape a new global body culture and community of love, health and wellbeing.

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