Updated: May 11
I come today with a reminder of the amazing gift and tool we came into the world with. Let's start with the facts.
What are the benefits of movement? Conscious movement and physical activity, among other things, can help us cope with everyday life (by supporting our resistance to stress), promotes goal achievement (through regularity of workouts), is required for digestion (our digestive system works through muscle movement) and detoxification (moving lymph and expelling toxins along with sweat), it regulates hormones (regulates blood sugar levels), improves mood (by releasing endogenous cannabinoids/endorphins), and apart from that, it prolongs life (we stay mobile longer and are less prone to injuries) and takes care of our silhouette (by building up muscle and increasing motivation to take care of our diet). These are just a few superpowers, and there are even more!
So great, and what's next?
We all know exercise is good, just like we know you should eat vegetables because they're healthy. (Still, fast food hasn't gone bankrupt yet).
The key is motivation, which unfortunately often comes from fear (if I don't exercise I'll be fat, debilitated, without energy). When we do something out of such motivation, sometimes it's hard to break through, to mobilize, because we're in that energy of fear and deprivation. A hole appears in us, and then we need to plug it with something comfortable (e.g. chocolate or French fries - there's nothing like a combination of fats, readily available carbs and a distinct sweet/salty taste to fill that gap). Not always, but it can happen in the initial phase of changing your diet and habits. In the same way that it's much more enjoyable (TEMPORAIRLY!) to let go of your morning exercise, and instead sit back and relax with a coffee and a smartphone or a book, or even just go straight into working mode.
It's easy to let go self-work this one day. But it's much harder to persist in that letting go for a lifetime.
With every limiting injury, I realize how much I rely on my legs. My wonderful legs that allow me to walk everywhere without caring if there is an elevator, to do off-road in the woods and mountains, and to run, sweat, and feel my strength and energy kicks. I experienced a similar feeling when I was pregnant, where I gradually felt my body put movement and energy restrictions on me, and I could no longer do my favorite twists and turns, or sweet and tiring long runs. Or when I wear uncomfortable, tight pants or a costume (that doesn't happen anymore), and feel uncomfortable every time I want to sit or squat. You know that one?
Then I realize what a gift it is to be able to have unlimited movement. But this unlimited movement doesn't come by itself.
When we nurture it regularly, oil our joints, and lengthen our muscles, our body softens and responds with gratitude. It responds with comfort, lack of pain, and that sense that we are...at home. In ourselves. In our strength. In freedom and in safety.
Fortunately/unfortunately, our body's memory cannot directly map the pain, restriction, or discomfort we have experienced in the past. This, among other reasons, is why mothers choose to have another pregnancy and especially another birth. I think if the memory of how much I missed running while injured, the inclines while pregnant, and the loose pants in too-tight jeans was still fresh, I would appreciate and celebrate the opportunity to move more once the pain/restriction/discomfort has passed. And yes - the discomfort passes, I feel relieved, and then I'm back to thinking about exercise in terms of 'duty'. I consciously activate work with this thinking - and I want to invite you to this work as well.
I want to invite you to look at your everyday movement from a different perspective, the one that appears when we don't have access to this movement - a huge gift, available practically right away, for most of us. Our bodies are designed to move. This is told to us by our internal drug factory (aka. neurotransmitters and happy hormones) that gets triggered when we exercise , the array of benefits I mentioned at the beginning, the sense of confidence and accomplishment... and so on. I'm sure you've all heard this before. But, have you fully felt it?
Even if you are currently experiencing some sort of injury, move a healthy part of your body. When your legs can't, move your head (or hand, stomach, foot, wrist). Look within yourself for that possibility.
What else can you move today?
How else can you increase your body awareness?
What daily activities can you incorporate more movement into?
One of my favorite daily ways to implement movement that I don't call a workout, is:
ignoring escalators/elevators when going up to higher floors,
exercising the 'ends' of your body while working at a computer (feet and ankles, hands and wrists, and neck),
stretching against a door frame,
standing on your toes while brushing your teeth,
twisting while sitting on a chair, carrying heavy things consciously and safely (i.e., tight abdomen, bent knees),
picking up objects from the floor while squatting.
With these small activities scattered throughout the day, I feel more strongly the need to move more, to move energy throughout my body, because these moments give me a foretaste of that deeper, longer, more intense activity - and thus that sense of comfort and freedom.
An energetic walk, morning yoga, running, cycling, strength training, hiking, even a 30-second plank... it all makes me feel happiness forming and emitting from every cell in my body. It feels so good! And we get to experience it every day! Movement makes me feel the strength and power within me, the freedom in my being. That I can climb to the top - the metaphorical one, and the mountain one too.
Being able to move is an absolute privilege. Experience it as such <3