What is Mindful Movement?
Fitness fads come and go but some are worth sticking out. You might have heard of mindful movement in recent months but do you know what it is?
While there’s a whole load of hype surrounding mindful meditation and activities, giving this practice a go could be well worth your time. It’s remarkably simple and the benefits are immense. Here’s everything you need to know and why you should try it.
What is mindful movement?
While it may sound complicated, mindful movement is anything but hard to understand. Put simply, it refers to engaging in different exercises while placing all of your attention (or as much as you can) on the movements of your body as well as your breathing.
For example, you could take a moment to notice the weight of your body on your feet or the position of your back when you’re sitting down. The chances are that you usually overlook these aspects of your physical well-being. By drawing your attention to them, you can gain a moment of stillness and relaxation.
“Being mindful in your moments allows you to participate in the full benefits of the experience,” explains Michael James Wong, global yogi and author of Sit Down, Be Quiet.
“Movement routines and activities are more than just physical when done mindfully, they allow the mind to focus, engage and be present. The breath supports the movements, your attention helps you feel and appreciate the subtitles of actions. Moving mindfully is easily the best and most effective way to get the most out of your physical activity.”
Michael James Wong / Photo by Jake Paul White
What are the benefits of this practice?
Now that you understand what mindful movement is, let’s take a moment to explore the health benefits of this practice. Before you embark on a journey into the world of mindfulness meditation, you should first understand what you’re going to get out of this newfound lifestyle change. Here’s a couple of the ways it may benefit you.
- LOWER STRESS AND ANXIETY
Make no mistakes, stress and anxiety are deadly. These mental conditions can often have a physical impact on us from increasing the risk of cardiovascular problems to weight gain. Tackling the source of the problem is a smart, sensible move for your health and wellness.
According to a recent study from Penn State, practicing mindful movement could be the answer. The researchers looked at the activity and stress levels of 158 students as part of the study. When the students were more mindful and active at the same time, their stress and anxiety levels fell dramatically.
“Most studies in this area have focused on the differences between people who are more versus people who are less mindful, but we saw that college students often slipped in and out of mindful states during the day,” explained David Conroy, professor of kinesiology at Penn State. “Developing the ability to shift into these states of mindfulness as needed may be valuable for improving self-regulation and well-being.”
- IMPROVED LEVEL OF FOCUS
One of the things that few of us do on a day-to-day basis is bring our attention to the here and now. It’s all too easy to get caught up in what’s going on in our minds and not focus on what’s happening around us. That’s where mindful movement is different.
Taking the time to really notice how you’re feeling and your physical state is a skill that you can develop over a period of time. At first, you might find that your mind naturally wanders while you’re trying to practice this activity. That’s not as big a problem as you might imagine. Ease into mindful movement exercises so you can start to hone this skill.
How can you get started and try it?
If you’re ready to start something new and feel like giving mindful movement a whirl, there’s no time like the present. Of course, there are mindful movement classes but these tend to be few and far between. Failing a specific class, here are two ways to start.
- MINDFUL YOGA
One of the most common ways to practice mindful movement is through yoga. Some forms of this activity type lend themselves perfectly to mindful meditation. For example, hatha yoga often encompasses an element of mindful meditation. When searching for a class that’s right for you, be sure to research well.
- WALKING OUTDOORS
Don’t fancy joining a class? No problem. An easy way to incorporate some mindful movement into your life is to simply head out for a walk. While you’re trekking outside, try to focus on how you’re physically feeling as well as your surroundings. Avoid thinking about things like what you’re going to have for dinner and just put all your energy into noticing what’s happening.
So, what are you waiting for? Trying mindful movement could help you strengthen your focus, relieve your stress levels, and curb anxiety. There’s no downside to giving it a try and seeing how it benefits you. What’s more, you don’t need any special gear or classes to get started. Go ahead and give it a go.