There are various forms of mindful body movements and exercises that greatly enrich our practice by reducing stress, induce relaxation, improve equanimity, concentration, and mood. Incorporating some type of mindful movement also enhances our sitting meditation practice. Yoga, for example, has been documented to provide health benefits including increased strength and flexibility, better balance and coordination, improved reaction times, better lung function, heightened cardiovascular conditioning, and weight loss, as well as asthma, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease.
The body is built to Move. Lets review a few of traditional disciplines built on movement.
Yoga is a multidimensional system that includes stretching and strengthening poses, breathing exercises, and ethical and meditation practices. It uses body, breath, and senses to reconnect the practitioner with the universe and move emotions and thoughts into stillness. So try out Yoga – take a class at a local yoga studio ( usually there are special pricing for first time students ) Alternatively you can do Yoga at home with a video or ask a friend to show you.
Tai Chi is a Chinese system of physical exercises that is believed to facilitate the flow of Qi (life force) in the body, promoting good health and vitality. Tai Chi utilizes movements that are Yin Yang opposites: softness and strength, forward and backward, action and calm.The best way to learn is to take classes – look for a local class in your community. You can find many examples of Tai Chi practice such as Walking online as well.
Qigong is a Chinese practice using movement, affirmations, breath work, visualizations, and meditation to improve the flow of “qi” or life force, restore internal harmony, and restore the practitioner’s harmony with nature. Beginners first learn physical movements coordinated with breathing techniques Once they learn the form, the next step is to find the subtle flow or fluctuation of energy within the postures, movements, breathing patterns, and transitions. This is called moving meditation. Among the exercises, there are many postures that are held for long periods of time such as tree pose which is similar yoga mountain pose. You can find many examples of Qigong practice online as well.
You can incorporate mindfulness whenever your body is moving.
- Walking, walk the dog , with kids, walk @ lunch, running
- Hiking, beach (pay attention to different parts of body, and shift to observing nature)
- Lifting weights, push ups ( be mindful of the abdominal muscles )
- Weeding ( focus on breath, and hands )
- Washing Dishes ( focus on hands, breath )
- Taking out the trash ( walking meditation )
- Stretching (focus on breath, stretch)