Mindful and Intuitive Movement
Author: Breanna Mills R.D.
Mindful and intuitive movement can be described as movement that is done with attention, purpose, self-compassion, acceptance, awareness, and joy. Healthy exercise is based in the process of exercise, not the outcomes. It is listening and tuning into your body before, during and after exercise.
Mindful or intuitive movement should:
Rejuvenate the body, not exhaust it,
Enhance the mind-body connection, not lead to disconnection,
Alleviate mental and physical stress, not contribute to more stress
Provide genuine enjoyment and pleasure, not pain
Mindful movement involves selecting activities based on four components: function, feeling, fun and fuel.
Function. What is the purpose for exercising? Figuring out why you truly want to exercise can help you choose how you want to move your body. Think about what exercise can provide in your life and what it cannot provide.
Feeling. Exercise should be a way to connect to our bodies, not push us farther away. Choose activities that make you feel good and speak to your strengths. Choosing activities that enhance your connection to your body impacts how you feel about exercise.
Fun. Exercise and movement should be fun! When exercising, you can explore what activities make you feel good in your body and what activities you even want to be doing. It can be helpful to challenge what “real exercise” means. Once we let go of the notion that only certain activities can be considered as exercise, there are more options that you can choose to find something that you truly enjoy.
Fuel. Our bodies need fuel to do all of the amazing things it does every day, including exercise. Our bodies need adequate and consistent fuel in order to be safe while exercising and also to get the most physical and mental benefits out of exercise. Whatever activities you like to do, it is important to ensure that you are providing your body with what it needs.
How do I know whether I am being mindful with exercise?
Changing your relationship with exercise can be tough. Perhaps it would be helpful to create a checklist for yourself so that you can tune in to how you are feeling about exercise. Below are some examples of points to include in your checklist, but it is important to make the checklist personal to yourself and what works for you.
Some examples include:
Do I want to exercise because of what I ate today?
Is there another activity I would rather be doing today instead of exercise?
What exactly would I like to be doing right now?
Is today a rest day? What exactly would I like to do with my day?
Am I feeling guilty because I do not think I am exercising enough?
Am I avoiding exercise today because I am uncomfortable with my body?
Do I want to go exercise alone so no one will interfere with what I do?
Do I feel that if I cannot do everything I planned for exercising, then I do not want to do any of it?
Did I enjoy this exercise the last time I did it?
It is possible to change from an unhealthy relationship with exercise to engaging in mindful and intuitive movement. Mindful and intuitive exercise involves choosing activities that you enjoy, tuning into how your body is feeling, and fueling your body appropriately for whatever activity you choose to do.