Fringe Benefits: Discovering Awareness Through Movement

Have you ever asked yourself how much of your current exercise training actually translates into meaningful benefits in your everyday movement? I know we all have different motivations for why we chose to wake up early to get a run in, take a power walk during our lunch hour, do a quick HIIT video from our phone while our kids are napping, or take Pilates class after a long day at work. For many of us, it may be just the generic reason, “to stay/get in shape” or maybe it’s to lose weight, look a certain way, or feel more confident. Now, more than ever, people are turning to exercise for emotional reasons, to hurt less physically or mentally, or to feel more. But what if there were hidden benefits beyond all these that were already built into our time spent exercising and moving that could directly affect the way we move, play and live all day long, and we just haven’t recognized them?

One of the most common differences that I see in my patients and students that get the most out of our sessions or classes together is a higher level of body awareness and ability to sense themselves. Believe it or not, it’s not their overall strength or familiarity with the choreography or technique, but their willingness to observe, explore and be curious about discovering new movement and connections within themselves that produce the best results and carry over into daily life.

Being open to feeling something different in a movement pattern that may be so familiar like a squat for instance, can have profound results. When we tap into sensing the movement versus controlling it and performing it, the nervous system lights up. Sometimes you will feel a shiver or tremble through the moving body parts as a sign that your brain is learning something new! Sensing a new way to move through a previously challenging exercise, is not only so exciting and liberating, but also your brain is listening, and in its quest for efficiency, remembers these new movement experiences for next time – whether that may be your next workout or bending down to pick up the laundry basket.

One of the big keys to moving well, is to be able to distinguish movement in one body part from another. For those of us with less mind body awareness, disassociation, as it’s called, is a great place to start to develop it. This concept begins with learning how to use the diaphragm to breathe while relaxing the accessory muscles of the head and neck that sometimes want to help. Once this becomes easy, you can feel pressure develop like an expanding balloon in your abdomen which creates stability in your torso. Now with an anchored point of reference, you can begin to sense and improve the mobility of the hips and shoulders for ease of movement in any exercise. Check out our Movement Library for a 3 part exploration of these concepts as they relate to maintaining healthy hips! Anyone currently experiencing or with a history of back pain, hip pain, knee or foot issues, tightness or stiffness in the legs or just a willingness to become better at tuning into your movement patterns to help you move better in sports, daily activities and life, these classes are for you!

Decrease tension, open the possibility of change, and become more authentic and aware in your own movement!

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