You may have heard the term a movement practise but wondered what it means. Many years ago I was introduced to the idea of a mindful movement practise through Chi Running. The value of a practise became clear to me as I learnt to truly enjoy running and eventually run injury free over time by paying close attention to how I moved. This was the beginning of getting to know my body better and learning how to move well in all sorts of ways.
In this crazy world that we live in, one where we no longer live in the present and where technology is taking over, we are so easily distracted. Connected in so many ways but utterly disconnected from our bodies that we simply do not recognise that many of the ailments we are suffering from, we are creating ourselves. In a culture so lacking in physical stimulation, the value of a mindful movement practise cannot be underestimated. What we have come to know as exercise is something that has been contrived to take the place of movements are bodies desperately crave and need and our health is in decline.
If you are like me, your device is never far from you. How many times a day do you check your email, look at social media etc. Our children spend way too much time indoors and any limited free time the school system allows is often spent on their devices. As a result, little or no physical activity is taking place, movement that is vital for us to keep our joints mobile, our tissues fed and our biological functions on track. It was wondeful to see a story in yesterday's Guardian highlight the benefits of outdoor learning but equally shocking to read in the same piece that a recent survey revealed that three quarters of UK children spend less time outside than prison inmates.
Mindless movement can be just as harmful as no movement at all. A movement practise helps you get back in touch with your body. It can help you to discover your blind spots and your weaknesses. Do not accept the notion that a particular ailment is because you are getting older. Your body is malleable and you have the power to change its shape and absolutely improve its function. You are how you move and you are creating the shape of your own body by what you do most frequently. Think about what you do most frequently over the course of a day.
I have a few practises, one of which is Restorative Exercise, a biomechanics based movement programme. This is the one that keeps my body in check and allows me to see what parts of my body move and what parts don’t. Do I use my lower back instead of my hips, do I use my thoracic spine to get my arms over my head? Can I articulate my joints, all of them? Therein you might find why you have a knee problem, a back problem or a shoulder impingement issue. Once I know where my blind spots are, I can work to address them, every single day. I can do this on a mat at home in front of a mirror and by mindfully checking my habits, eventually embodying new movement patterns when I’m going about my life day to day. If you are unable to tell and need a roadmap for your body, you can find a Nutritious Movement™ certified teacher to work with. Maybe your practise is Yoga, Pilates, T’ai Chi or something else. Whatever it is, it needs to inform you about how you move outside of class.
If you don't have a movement practise, you can start simply yourself by changing one thing you do. One evening a week, choose to sit on the floor instead of the sofa or eat dinner at a low table. You won’t need a teacher to tell you that you have probably lost the range of motion that your hips were once capable of. You will soon find out where you move and where you don’t. If this is difficult for you, sit on some cushions or bolsters where you can at least get closer to the ground. Age is not an excuse, your average 16 year old will struggle with this too. Those stiff joints and unyielding muscles are down to a lack of movement and too much time spent in a single position.
Initially, every fibre of your being will tell you to stay on that nice comfy sofa but resist the temptation. Give your body some work to do while just sitting there. You have begun to oil your parts.
Get to know your body, pay attention, see for yourself. Just begin.