What’s your daily movement regime like? Do you sit down a lot or do you get chances to move?
It can actually be quite difficult to fit in time for exercise or yoga classes so I want to offer you some help to move more and feel better. Our bodies need variety and diversity of movement to keep it feeling health and happy.
If you’re like most people you probably feel like there isn’t enough time, or perhaps you don’t feel like you have the money for classes and gyms or maybe you’re just not sure what to do or how to start?
First of all it’s important to differentiate between exercise and movement. You may already exercise a couple of times a week, which is a good start. But do you then spend 8 hours a day sitting down at work? Exercise is great but movement is even better.
And I’m talking about any kind of movement that’s not being still in the same body position. This could be walking, dancing, cleaning, playing a sport, going to the gym or gardening. It’s literally, anything you do with your body that gets you moving. So in a way it’s easier to add into your life than exercise because you already have the only equipment you need – your body!
I’m really passionate about natural movement to improve wellbeing. I’m sharing some ideas to get you thinking differently about movement.
Are you ready to move more and feel better? Here’s my 5 top tips to get you started.
Think about what your body needs
This requires you to think about what your body has been doing already today. If you’ve been doing repetitive movements or stuck in the same position for a while – do something different that nourishes your body. So for example, if you’ve been doing lots of computer work then you’ll definitely need to open your shoulders and do some twisting movements. If you’ve been driving or sitting, lunges are your go to movement. This will help to stretch out the front of the hip. Try to tune in to how you feel and move your body in a way that feels good. It doesn’t have to be a specific pose – just move around in a natural way for a bit.
This one is fairly easy. Just walk more. No need to say more – I think you’ve got the idea!
This has to be my most favourite way to incorporate more movement. Adding in movement into tasks you are already day is pure genius. Not only are you doing more movement but you’re also making the current task a little more interesting. A couple of examples could be adding in some toe lifts and foot stretches while preparing your food. Combine TV watching with sitting on the floor and stretching. If you’re familiar with 90/90 legs then this is a great one for hip mobility while sitting in the evening.
Breathing is moving too
If you’re stuck on a train or in a meeting, it might not be appropriate to start dancing around or doing some stretches. This is the perfect opportunity to practice your rib cage breathing. Focus on expanding your ribs as you breath will not only be soothing but also counts as important movement for your intercostal muscles.
Keep a diary
So if time was one of our barriers then this is going to feel like another time-consuming task. But I’m not talking about writing endless notes. Simply making a note at the end of the day of when and how you’ve moved. When you begin to write something down it feels more tangible and there is more chance that you’ll move more knowing that you are answerable to those notes in your diary at the end of the day.
The main thing is to move more. It really doesn’t matter whether it’s on a yoga mat or in front of the TV. It could be at your desk or out in your garden. Movement in nourishing for both mind and body. Yoga plays a vital part because it helps us to connect with ourselves. But don’t worry about doing fancy yoga poses – just move, feel good and your body will thank you.
Are you interested in learning more about your body’s needs?
Would you like to have a daily yoga and movement practice that feels easy and interesting?
Then join me on 16th March for a week long yoga and movement challenge. This is going to be a fun week of moving together, learning how to create a home yoga practice and feeling inspired with new ideas and tips.
It’s a week long challenge and it’s totally FREE! The best thing is it will be all online so you can join in at any time in the day. Each day you’ll receive an email with a new and easy challenge to get you moving. By the end of the week you will have moved in a variety of ways, experienced what it’s like to have a daily movement practice and hopefully have more knowledge to carry on!!! There will be an online community to join together with everyone taking up the challenge and you’ll receive an email as well.
Interested? Sign up for this totally FREE, week long challenge to get you moving more!
Did you know that it’s more important to be mobile than flexible? Read my blog post all about it
Do you ever hear people saying that it’s important to stay flexible? I hear it a lot in relation to yoga classes and it’s often the thing that puts people off from coming. People thinking that they’re not flexible enough to do yoga. Well, let me tell you why it’s better to mobile than flexible.
People think that a yoga class is all about stretching.
Well, guess what? Flexibility is overrated and I think you are much better to focus on being mobile. What I mean by mobile is keeping your joints mobile so they continue to move in all of the ways they can for as long as possible.
I’m not sure where it all stems from, but the term flexible has been used too freely that we all now feel that flexibility is the thing that’s going to keep us feeling young.
What is going to keep you feeling young is being strong and mobile and that’s exactly why I focus on this when I teach yoga.
When I first trained to be a yoga teacher I followed a traditional path which focused more on flexibility. It was all about opening the hips and being adjusted to ‘get further’ into a pose. But what’s that all for?
I’ve continued to expand my learning and I now focus on muscle strength and range of motion. Yoga should be a tool to keep healthy rather than a goal of achieving particular poses.
Flexibility is just vanity really. It might look nice if we can stretch really far but does it feel nice?
So how about we do a deal. Let’s forget about being flexible and work on being mobile. Mobility is less about how it looks but more about the experience of how it feels. Working with your body instead of pushing against it. It’s less about opening hips or hearts it’s more about mindful movements that are safe for our bodies. It’s moving our bodies a little bit, every day. Let’s focus on making 10% changes. If our goal is to be stronger or more able to balance, let’s do that a bit at a time. Each day you make time to move is a day well spent.
Our bodies can move fast or slow, they can twist and bend. They can jiggle, wiggle and be still too. Enjoy moving your body in lots of different ways and you’ll be helping it to stay young and healthy.
How does that sound, do we have a deal?
Read more about my approach to teaching yoga and movement
All too often I hear people saying ‘you should do yoga, it’s good for you’. People are being told by their doctors or physios to ‘do yoga’ as a way to help with all sorts of sports injuries and back problems.
My concern with this advice is that it’s way too broad.
I’ve been practising yoga for years, trying out different classes and different styles of yoga. I found I was drawn to classes that provided lots of opportunity to stretch as I was naturally flexible. I enjoyed the feeling of ‘letting go’ in a pose. But the next day I’d be in pain. Proper pain which needed painkillers to help me manage it. I couldn’t understand it. Surely it wasn’t the yoga that was causing this because all yoga is good for you. Isn’t it? Yoga just has this image of being the perfect answer to all our problems.
This kept happening and for a while I stopped practising. No matter which class or style I was attending, I just experienced pains the next day. Or sometimes during class. I often found my wrists just couldn’t cope with any weight bearing or that my shoulders would ache so bad if I held my arms up. I started to think that maybe yoga wasn’t good for me after all so it was better to stop.
But that didn’t feel right either because I loved my time on the mat, the philosophy and opportunity to re-connect with your own self.
It was when I embarked on my training to be a pelvic floor specialist that I began to find the reasons for my pain and discomfort.
Here’s what was happening for me…
I’m hyper mobile so I have a tendency to be really flexible in many of my joints. Because of this flexibility there is very little opportunity to build strength in my muscles – especially if I let my body relax down into a pose as far as it can go. I was enjoying the momentary stretchy feeling and paying for it later. And I hate to admit it but I was letting my ego take control as I enjoyed achieving all these advanced stretches.
By learning more about the science of movement, human anatomy and importance of building strength and stability rather than flexibility I started to be able to change how I practiced each pose.
I’ve been on quite a ‘movement’ journey over the last 2 years, learning from movement educators all around the globe! Learning about biomechanics, barefoot shoes and dangers of sitting too much!!
I’ve changed how I practice on the mat because I now know what’s good for my body. So in answer to my own question, ‘is yoga always good for you?’ my simple answer is no. But also yes – if you know how to move your body and adapt the poses to suit you!
Group classes vs 1-2-1
I love group yoga classes for the opportunity to practice together and build a community. My only concern is that if you’re only ever practising in a group, that you may not be practicing the poses in a way that will help you to be strong and mobile. You may be trying to achieve a range of movement that’s just not possible for your body right now or over stretching like I was!
Recently, I’ve been working with women in small group classes to help them find more ease and comfort in their yoga practice. Working 1-2-1 or even in a small group gives me the opportunity to assess how your body moves. Together we can work out when to use props to support the body and where to place your body so that you can benefit from the practice.
By deconstructing your current practice we can re-build a stronger version that will ensure you’re practicing in a safe and sustainable way.
If you’d like support to help refine your yoga poses then get in touch about my 1-2-1 yoga coaching.
You might also be interested in reading how private yoga can help your aches and pains