I recently finished the fourth workshop of my Change Your Age: Vitality at Any Age series. Toward the end, a dedicated, curious student asked, “But what exercise SHOULD I do now? I have to keep exercising to keep my weight down and stay fit.”
So, I explained how small, easy movements might be better for overall well being than large, difficult ones. I had shown in the workshop how it was more beneficial to elongate our muscles rather than stretch them. The students had gotten the experience of being able to bend forward and backward and how important all movements are if we want to live a normal life. I reminded the group how we’d talked in class about not constantly holding our “core,” and even experienced letting go of the vaginal muscles (and how it just might be time to give up on those Kegel exercises learned 30 years ago.) .
“Well,” she said, “that just about wipes out whatever exercise routine I had!”
So what can you do? The short answer is, DO WHATEVER EXERCISES YOU WANT TO DO. I recommend that you do what you like and what gives you pleasure. That’s because it’s not about WHAT you do, but HOW you do it.
What is fitness, really? When I posed that question to the class, the answers ranged from, “being healthy” to “losing weight” to “being able to do yoga poses”. Most still believed they aren’t really doing exercises or doing it right unless they sweat, feel pain, or work to exhaustion.
I am here to say the exact opposite. We do not gain by exercising beyond the point of pain and stress. We do not gain by straining as we exercise. We do not gain if we are in too much pain to move the next day.
Alright then, how do we do “any exercise we want?” We pay attention. We use awareness (no matter what type of movement you’re doing!) We move with intention. This will not only make you stronger and more heart-healthy, it’ll make moving fun! Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Have less ambition and more curiosity about your routine.
2. Strive for more work rather than more effort: move smarter, not harder.
3. Be present as you move or exercise. Explore what you are doing.
4. Pay attention to your breath: how are you breathing in, how are you breathing out? (Are you breathing or are you holding your breath?)
Would you like to feel just how awareness feels and the difference it makes?
Sit on the edge of your chair.
-How do you sit? What part of your buttock is in contact with the seat?
-Are you on your tail bone? Or are you all the way forward, on your pelvic bone?
-What is your belly doing? (Is it pushing out? Held tightly in?)
-Where is your head? (Is your chin down, or up? Is your right ear closer to your right shoulder than the left ear is to the left? Is your nose facing forward?)
-Are you breathing? How? Where do you feel your breath? Touch the parts of you that move when you breathe.
-Lift your right arm up. Lift your left arm up.
-Bring your arms down and rest. Just observe.
Take a breath in and release it, noticing where and how the air travels. If you do this, observe breath, assess where you are, where all of your parts are, with every exercise routine, you will definitely get more benefit and less discomfort from your program. To continue with our Awareness Through Movement® lesson…….
-Turn and look to the right. Find your “spot”: where is it most comfortable to easily see? (No stretching, straining, or creaking, please!)
-Come back to facing front.
-(A) Turn and look to the right again, but this time turn your head and shoulders. Move slowly. Move just a little bit at a time. Repeat several times.
-(B) Turn your shoulders to the right and hold them there. Bring your head to the front several times, keeping shoulders to the right.
-Repeat steps A & B on the left.
-face front again
-turn to the right, turn to the left
Did your range of motion improve? No stretching here. How do you sit now? More comfortable? Do you feel connected? Get up and walk.
How do you feel? Go, take on your fitness program.
Move with ease, awareness, and connection.