What is mindful movement?

There has been a massive increase in web searches on mindful movement in the past year, with more and more of us trying to understand what it is and how it can benefit us.

We take a look at different forms of mindful movement and the associated benefits. 

Mindful movement is exercising while giving all of your attention to the movements of your body and breathing. It can help to lower stress, create calm and improve the benefits of exercise.

There are many types of practice to which this can be applied but the aim is the same for all - to bring our focus to the present moment and experience how our body and breath are reacting.

Some of the key types of mindful movement are explored below: 

Types of Mindful Movement

  • Breathing

    By focusing on our breath at rest, during meditation or purposefully elongating our breaths, can calm our nervous system.

    Similarly, by shortening our breath for brief periods we can refresh and refocus ourselves. Regularly concentrating on our patterns of breathing can make a real difference to our day-to-day wellbeing.

  • Walking

    It's something most of us do without even thinking, but mindful walking is a little different. The purpose is not to get to any specific destination, but to experience the journey, to notice our feet on the ground, our breath and to be present in the moment.

    Studies
    have shown that mindful walking may be beneficial in the reduction of stress, improving feelings of wellbeing and helping us reconnect with our surroundings. So next time you're out for a walk, take out the headphones, turn off your phone and enjoy the experience.

  • Yoga and meditation

    Both can help ease tension and allow us to focus on simple movements. By moving slowly through poses you become conscious of your body and the physical sensation of how it feels in different poses, movements and areas of your anatomy. 

  • Exercise

    Regular exercise can be practised mindfully, by focusing on our breath we can help foster mental clarity and drive. By paying attention to how our body reacts we can synchronise our muscles, mind and breath.
  • Running

    By becoming mentally connected whilst running, you embrace everything going on in the body from how tight certain limbs are feeling to how fast your brain is racing.

    This can in turn improve the performance of your body and mind. Studies have shown that the mind has a dramatic effect on the body and therefore on your athletic and cognitive performance.

Benefits of mindful movement

  • Reduce stress

    Studies have shown that when people participate in more mindful movement, they can reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Reduction of the negative affect

    A study has shown that by participating in mindful movement, negative stress can be reduced, this was conducted over a short period but the possibilities for the longer term benefits is huge.
  • Improve sleep

    Research has shown that meditative movement before sleep can help with sleep quality, this can have a dramatic effect on our bodies as a good night's sleep has many beneficial health outcomes.

  • Improve mental health

    Studies have been conducted on the mental health benefits of mindful movement and how to incorporate this into everyday life.

    In recent years, psychotherapists have turned to mindful meditation as an important element in the treatment of several problems, including:

    1. Depression
    2. Substance abuse
    3. Eating disorders
    4. Couples’ conflicts
    5. Anxiety disorders
    6. And obsessive-compulsive disorder.

  • Improve physical performance

    This investigation demonstrated a five-week mindfulness training program with two 30  minute practice sessions per week positively affected the participating athletes' endurance performance and cognitive functions, including executive functions.

So, what are you waiting for? Mindful movement could help you strengthen your focus, relieve your stress levels, curb anxiety and improve physical performance- give it a go!