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