I am often asked what sort of yoga do I teach… I’ve come up with mindful movement – it’s the best way I can think of to describe it.
What is the point? You can go to yoga classes and learn lots of fancy shenanigans but really what is the point if it doesn’t spill out into your day-to-day existence. Of course, to a certain extent, spillage is to be expected. It is yoga after all. You will move and breathe and that is amazing. But if we start to pay a bit more attention to what is going on, we can explore our bodies in a way that allows us to tweak habitual movements that maybe aren’t helpful. You stand, sit and walk constantly. If these movements are considered and you cultivate a healthy posture; not only will you be more comfortable and move better but it will inform your asanas and your yoga practice as a whole.
I came to yoga with a chattering mind. The dynamic sequences helped but as I get older and deepen my exploration, I see so much more. The magic is in the subtleties. Yoga has more to give than what happens on your mat.
What is mindful movement? In one word, awareness. Mindful movement takes notice of what is going on, inside and out. This noticing, an acceptance with kindness, allows a safe exploration of our bodies and our minds. If we are gentle with ourselves and listen, we can identify areas that need our attention and start to let go, developing more helpful movements. So, there is a noticing, an awareness then a softening, which allows for fluidity and flow and space. Then we can experiment with building strength and resilience and increasing flexibility.
Ultimately, this is flowing and rhythmic. Sequences designed to bring strength, balance & range of movement to the whole body. Mindful movement lets us be aware, it encourages fluidity, stability and strength, inside & out. It celebrates the connection between mind and body. It feels good. This paying attention to all movement, the internal rhythmic flow of the breath – diaphragm, lungs, ribcage, heart, belly and the pelvic floor, reconnects us with ourselves. It lets there be a watching that does not judge but kindly adjusts.
As we develop movement patterns that filter through to our daily activities our resilience to injury & illness increases…. Our minds soften too, they like the cultivation of non-judgement. A curious exploration and a kind suggestion of change.
There is a lot going on in yoga poses. It definitely helps to break stuff down, understand it, feel it and then put it back together…
What’s in a warrior? After all, before you can truly enjoy a warrior 2, (virabhadrasana 2) you must notice your feet, feel the connection with the floor, the earth. The pads of the toes, the soles of the feet, the even pressure. Establish a firm foundation. You will need to lift up through the crown of the head, feel the space in between each of your vertebrae and settle into your natural lumbar curve. A relaxation of the shoulders, letting them fall away from the ears. A softening in the face, eyes, jaw, the tongue – heavy. You might be aware of the gentle squeeze of your transverse abdominis as it supports your core. The release of the muscles in your belly and the feel of the breath flowing deeply into the pelvic bowl. And on top of all of that, the complexity of what is going on in the lower part of your body. An engagement of different muscles in the legs and the gluteals allows you to keep your pelvis square, whilst opening the front hip & stabilising the back.
If you haven’t made that connection with the earth to start with and really felt your foundation, there is nothing to build upon….
How to explore mindful movement…… If you want to explore mindful movement, start by paying attention to how you walk, stand and sit. Think about your posture in certain situations, how do you sit at your computer? your car? Look at the bottom of your shoes, are they wearing evenly? Do you lean forward as you walk? Do you have difficulty getting up off the floor or out of a chair? How even/symmetrical do you feel? Where in your body do you notice tightness or tension? Can you release and let the space in? #thisismindfulmovement
Jo runs regular mindful movement classes in person and online. bookwhen.com/wildyogis
Private consultations also available.
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