Movement is Essential to Your Wellbeing
There is no such thing as a completely sick person or a completely healthy person. There are only those who move more and those who move less.
Life is about movement—from the basic changes of our cells to the complex fluctuations in our emotions. Our bodies are designed to move. So, if you put yourself in a chair for eight hours curled over a keyboard, and you do this day after day, your mind and body will be poised for a structural disaster. Lack of movement means lack of life.
Moving and Mental Health
If you don’t move it, you’ll lose it. This holds true for your mind as well as your emotions. Lack of movement is paralysis. And staying mentally and emotionally paralyzed, especially when you’re sad, distressed or wound up, makes for its own kind of disaster.
This makes movement in every mode essential for a healthy life. You need to experience a range of motion. Not just physically, but mentally as well. You are a body in motion—dynamic—not static like a piece of sculpture. Your body holds a confluence of energy and intelligence. The more you move, the more physically, mentally and emotionally alive you become.
So What Moves You?
When you move, what moves you? Is it your emotions, your curiosity, your intellect—or is it your muscles? For each of us it’s some of the above, or perhaps all of the above. Yet one thing is critical: the need to move. And you need to move every muscle in your body, from your glutes (the largest muscle) to your heart (your hardest-working muscle) to the smallest muscle in your middle ear (which enables you to hear).
Not surprisingly, muscles are intelligent. As a matter of fact, the intelligence of your muscles is extraordinary. Muscles have memory. They even remember specific, complex motor patterns. Riding a bicycle is the easiest example. Even if you haven’t ridden a bicycle in decades, muscle memory kicks in.
Muscles have been given a bad rap. They are thought of in terms of brute force — something to pump up. But muscles are not the opposite of brains; muscles are not dumb. They have a remarkable, intelligence-gathering capacity. Once you learn how to apply this intelligence to your life, you will gain more sensitivity and power.
How Practicing Yoga Promotes Healthy Movement
The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means to “join, link, or connect.” The essence of yoga is yoking or uniting, and to practice yoga is to “join with”—to reach a new level of integration within yourself. Yoga is the art of linking to all parts of yourself—your body, your thought processes, your awareness, and your emotions. Each time you attempt to link with any aspect of yourself or your world, you are doing yoga.
Yoga is Movement
Not just physical activity, but also emotional and intellectual movement. That’s why there’s a big difference between movement and exercise in yoga. Movement in your body is a neuromuscular event as well as an emotional one, resulting from the integrated activity of your entire nervous system. Your nervous system initiates, controls and monitors all movement within your body and mind, and connects all the parts with its intelligence. If you move your body, you move your emotions as well as your mind. This is body intelligence. When you move, you transform things.
How to move? That’s up to each individual preference. But with any movement you do—whether you’re lifting weights, walking, or doing yoga—keep your attention on the flow of your breath. This awareness of your breath is what’s most important, because it engages your attention to whatever it is you are doing, and sends tone, energy and awareness throughout your body.
“I Move, Therefore I Am”
In the Age of Enlightenment, Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” Today, in a new age of enlightenment that’s focused on wellness and fulfillment, famed author and avowed runner Haruki Murakami, is noted for writing, “I move, therefore I am.”
After all, without movement, there is no life. You can’t stay in one place and continue the journey. Connecting to what moves you, physically and emotionally, is movement. And movement is what brings meaning and joy to your life. So, keep moving, but do it in your own style.
(Originally published for AGEIST Magazine)
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