As I break out in dance, my memory and body know exactly what to do! I hear the lyrics in my head, sing out loud, and I “move it” letting my body lead the way. For me, this mind body connection through music and dance, provides an endorphin rush that makes me smile and brings me joy. As I gracefully age, this centered pleasure, among others, I know, are good for my body, physically and mentally, minus immediate pain or cruel punishment. From experience, I listen and only partake in those activities that happily fill me up from the inside out.
As our society dictates a very active mind, we see more and more people becoming stagnant and stationary in their lifestyles. We are motionless with less movement. A movement practice can become a source of personal discovery, wonder, and healing. This timed practice will fill up our body, we will become emotionally full, and think with more clarity. Practice becomes rehearsal bringing more motivation to live our life with more connection, joy and grace.
Through this movement discovery, we need to find our joy or happiness. So, what is joyful movement anyway? It is different and supposed to feel good. The focus of physical activity is finding pleasure in doing so versus the measured results. I like to move because it feels good! It is about choice and the right to rest, as well as benefits of it, and your choice in whether to engage with it or not. With joyful movement, all kinds of movement are valid. Not only do different people have different preferences when it comes to movement, but different abilities as well. To make joyful movement inclusive, all types of movement must be morally equal, even if they have different purposes.
What is the status of your movement and balance these days? The time is NOW to dance or find that other perfect activity that moves you to heal and become whole. Whatever practice you choose, be sure that it will restore the vital energy flow in your body and help you find those lost parts of your life that have been missing for a while. As a moving “meditation”, you will gain an increased healing and awareness in your new found life search.
What does exercise mean to you?
Exercise helps us gain physical attributes and mental clarity, some of which include to improve circulation, increase lymph flow, boost energy, provide mood enhancement, and help with digestion and elimination. Movement to change our body and mind is stereotyped by society as some type of exercise program … a means to an end. We find the chore behind the exercise for a minimum of 3X a week, 3 sets, with 12 repetitions to sometimes be daunting especially if we don’t relate to this type of movement.
Exercise and physical activity have been researched to help with depression, stress and anxiety. It may strengthen bones and keep muscle mass, helping with fall and fracture risk. You can lose weight or keep your ideal weight, reduce risk of diseases, help with other achy body parts, rev up the immune system, lift your mood, and bring on happiness.
As a long-time fitness enthusiast and instructor, I have instilled this mindset for sure. Don’t get me wrong, I still love to work-out with the above exercise regime, however, I don’t spend up to 2 hours in the gym getting all of it done. I break it down and do what feels good that day not stressing about getting it all done. I seek movement that makes me happy and healthy. Granted I am not 25 young anymore and desire the body that I assumed went along with it. I want to enjoy what I do, and reap different benefits of being content with who I am today.
Make new associations with exercise and physical movement. Push weight loss thoughts out of your head and be present in the here and now pleasures of moving. Determine what you are doing in this moment of movement and how you can capture that experience in the future.
Your 5 Senses. Choose a movement (walking, yoga, swimming, pickle ball …) and pay attention to each of the five senses. Be aware of sight, smell, physical feeling, taste and hearing as you move this way. This forms a grounding in your body to experiment with new types of joyful movement and brings your attention to what sensations your body likes best.
What does your body need? Keep your feels open to what movement your body really wants. We are all different and may not crave the gym or a class … we all gravitate to different movements and that’s ok. I am finding liberation and joy walking outside (weather permitting) with fresh air, a sunny day (bonus), providing plenty of space to scan my surroundings and breath freely. Yoga, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, biking, and hiking also feed my joyful movement. Other gentle movement activities can include: walking the dog, kayaking, canoeing, cleaning (yeah not my fav), playing with the kiddos and taking the stairs.
What did you do as a kid? What activities defined FUN when you were growing up? My siblings and I plus neighborhood friends found pleasure in roller skating, riding our bikes on the ditch banks, playing outdoor games, and other sports until dark. These movement activities brought us joy and many memories.
Don’t do it alone. Collective benefits of yoga and other group classes bring a sense of connected community and an intoxicating joy of a shared experience. Our struggles are real, and we have the opportunity to share them with others through uplifting physical movement. When I go to concerts with my groupies, this euphoric vibe overcomes me as we all sing at the top of our lungs, dance and sway to each and every song. When we synchronize our movements with others, our endorphins kick in, and we obtain a sense of trust and connection with those moving with us.
Whether you move as one or hang with a group … do all things from your soul, feel a river moving in you, a joy. Sources: Beyer, 2019, McGonigal, 2019