I'm sharing another archive post today, as I'm away for an intensive 200-hour yoga teacher training. I thought these posts on moving your body to find body love were perfect and always a much-needed perspective in the world of 'no pain, no gain.'
There's nothing more freeing or creative for me than moving my body in a way that FEELS. SO. GOOD. A yoga flow outside in the grass in the sunshine. A technology-free run on trails. Hiking to the top of gorgeous mountains, surrounded by nature.
None of this feels like "exercise" to me. I'm not slaving away in the gym. I'm outside or in a cozy yoga studio moving in a way that gets the endorphins flowing, my body is in the flow, and I'm not thinking about toning my muscles or burning fat.
Movement is our natural state as humans.
It's easy to live up in my head and listen to the overanalyzing thoughts all day, especially when I'm on my computer or checking social media throughout the day. Moving my body unlocks access to my body where magic happens. Literally, clarity, creativity, connection to my inner self, femininity, and freedom comes soaring out of me after a yoga class or run.
It's where my best ideas often pop up. It's like they're hiding away in my intuition, which I tend to feel in my gut. Listen to your gut everyone!
Of course, this wasn't always the case.
Like most women, I used to hit the gym to get in shape, strive for flat abs, and burn calories. It was always planned, and I would write out my exercise routine for the week to fit in my cardio and strength workouts. Yes, I did feel good afterwards, but it was still always something I 'SHOULD' do rather than something I really wanted to.
Yup, I totally felt guilty for skipping a sprints or weights workout to hit up a yoga class. My body was giving me very clear signs that it was time to get out of the gym, and MOVE in the way that felt really good.
Giving up the Gym
Deep down, I've always known that the body is wise (I just had to start to listen + believe that). When I started to tune into the fact that I left yoga class with a radiant glow and went out for a run when I was feeling stuck or upset, I slowly started to let go of exercise in the gym that I never really liked. I even took a break from running - my first love - for a while.
I discovered yoga - my second love - in college. It was love at first sight...well, after I gave up the myth that it was just stretching and not a 'real workout.' I was in for a real treat after hitting up a power yoga class and leaving drenched in sweat, with shaky legs, and with the incredible post-yoga GLOW. I felt calm, energized, and connected with my body. I appreciated the strength and beauty of my body. Of course, yoga + I are still in a deep, sensual, playful, for-life relationship.
In one of my first classes, I remember the teacher saying "You hold emotions in your hips" while dropping into one of my favorite posts - pigeon pose. I was clueless and had no idea what she was talking about then, but now years later, I believe it. When I'm tuned into my body, emotions pop up in hip openers, backbends, or other poses. Your feelings and emotions aren't just up in your head; your body holds them. By starting to tune into your BODY - often with movement - you can begin to learn new things about yourself. I sure have.
Movement to Connect to your BODY
For me, yoga, running, hiking, snowboarding (minus the cold) are all about feeling good. Movement helps me physically embody how I want to feel. I want to feel open, vibrant, connected, and flowing (The Desire Map!). When I'm flowing through hip-openers, I feel OPEN. When I'm moving into a backbend, I feel connected to me + my heart. When I'm running, I feel vibrant. Connecting with my breath and body helps me show up and connect in my relationships, work, writing, and just life.
When I'm feeling stuck, blocked creativity, or anxious, all I need to do is get moving. Usually, it's a short walk outside, a quick yoga flow, or a little dance party. Otherwise, I just let the anxiety and negative energy build up in my head and run on a loop. Moving into my body connects me to my intuition to bring the creativity, openness, or freedom I'm usually seeking.
Use Movement to find Body Love + Connection
If you want to add movement to your life to FEEL open, vibrant, free, or however you desire to feel, here are 5 simple tips.
- Give up outcomes and numbers. Leave your running watches or machines at home. Don't calculate how many calories you burned. Enter movement judgment-free.
- Move in a way that you LOVE and CRAVE. Maybe it is running, or maybe it's yoga, walking, hiking, or having a dance party around your house. Move to feel good - if you're craving a run on some trails, go for it. If you want to flip upside down, do an inversion. If you want to dance to Backstreet Boys around your house, I highly recommend it.
- Set an intention. It could be a simple mantra or something you're working on in your life. Lately, my intention in yoga class is simply "Let go."
- Be fully present in your body. Notice the mental clutter in your head - just observe it. You don't need to engage with it by trying to calculate how much further you should run. Notice any sensations in your body, release of emotions, or changes as you keep moving. How do you feel afterwards? What does movement bring to your life besides endorphins and sweat?
- Appreciate all your body gives you. Too often, we talk negatively about our bodies. Your body loves you - it's literally doing thousands of metabolic processes each second to keep you alive. You just gotta love it back :)
If you find yourself not sticking to an exercise plan, forget it. Add movement to your life. Feel good, and make movement a practice of self-love and self-care.
If you're interested in re-defining your relationship with your body and food to make movement joyful, contact me about nutrition coaching.
Share with me in the comments below (I love hearing from you!):
- What's your favorite way to move your body?
PS: If you're super inspired to MOVE, here are 11 Alternative Movement Ideas.