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Movement For Joy

How we move matters. Not only does it impact on our posture and overall physical health, but it can also influence our mood. So how can we use movement to help bring more joy and happiness into our daily lives?

Movement For Joy

There is a growing trend towards joyful movement. In contrast to exercise, where the focus tends to be primarily directed at the end result, joyful movement instead promotes the experience and joy of movement itself. The focus lies instead on finding movement that feels good and pleasurable.

By regularly engaging with a form of movement that you find enjoyable, you are more likely to want to continue. As such, it creates an opportunity for regularity and consistency. The more you enjoy moving, the more likely you are to do it and therefore, the more benefits (both physically and mentally) you will be able to gain from it. Engaging regularly in any form of movement will support you in feeling more refreshed, focused, energised and ultimately more confident in yourself.

Yet, finding movement that brings you joy also allows you to find a new connection with your body. By engaging in pleasurable movement, you have the opportunity to (re)connect with your body’s needs and to learn to be more aware and in tune with yourself. It also provides you with the chance to celebrate your body and all the ways that it can move. It is a shift towards acknowledging that your body and what it can do changes over time but, rather than viewing this as a downside or with negativity, it invites you to celebrate what you can do in the present. In this way, joyful movement encourages you to welcome flexibility and change and encourages you to continue to discover what forms of movement feel good to you at different points of your life, or even on different days or time of day.

Finding Joy in Movement

The beauty of this approach and mindset is that it is not reliant on any one type of movement. Rather, it invites individuals to reflect on what kind of movement they find most engaging and pleasurable for themselves.

Reflect On Movement from Your Childhood

When we look at young children, we see that their movements are entirely ‘free’. By this, we mean that they do not concern themselves with how their movements are perceived or whether they are doing them ‘right’. They are unconcerned about looking silly or even whether their way of moving is suitable for the social context. Instead, they allow their natural impulses and desires to dictate the way in which they move around and, as such, they move in whatever way feels best for them.

Consider what types of movement you enjoyed as a child. What felt fun? Perhaps it was a form of sport or exercise, like swimming, running, roller blading or gymnastics. Maybe it was jumping, skipping or climbing? Or perhaps you enjoyed dancing or simply spinning around for the sheer fun of it?

Try reconnecting with yourself by engaging in that movement again now as an adult. As much as possible, give yourself permission to not ‘do it right’. Dance around to your favourite songs, jump around on a mini-trampoline, climb a tree, roll down a hill or run wildly through a park. Try to free yourself from any pressures about what it should feel or look like and instead, try to simply do it again for the joy of it.

Engage With Mindfulness Techniques

Having let yourself do the movements just for the fun of it, try doing them again whilst layering them with some mindfulness techniques. For example, allow your attention to shift to your breath and actively engage in mindful breathing. Allow yourself to become aware of your thoughts and feelings as you move. Notice and acknowledge them.

Open your awareness to your other senses too. Notice the sensations as you perform the movements and what feelings or memories are triggered. Allow yourself to be present to the moment. Try to avoid passing judgements on yourself or how you are moving, but simply remain open to the sensations and the experience.

Experiment, Play, Repeat

Experiment with movement, be playful and open. Perhaps today you try dancing, but tomorrow you try yoga and the next day climbing. You are not limited to any one form of movement. If what you did yesterday doesn’t feel good today, experiment with a different type of movement. Give yourself permission to find what feels good for you at this moment in time.

Approach each movement encounter with openness and curiosity. The only expectation or desired outcome is for whatever form of movement you are engaged in to bring you joy and pleasure. So, experiment! Find what feels good and explore it further. The more regularly you engage with movement, the more joy you’ll find in it and the more health benefits you’ll gain from doing it.

An Invitation…

This week, we invite you to find a form of movement that brings you joy. It can be any form of movement at all. It’s important to remember that movement can be small and gentle too. It may simply be rolling your shoulders or wrists, or it could be going for a walk with your dog, dancing around in your kitchen or engaging in a movement practice.

The key is to find a form of movement, however big or small, that you find enjoyable. After you’ve completed your movement, take a minute or two to pause and simply observe and reflect on yourself and your experience. How do you feel? How has the movement impacted on your mood, on your confidence, on your sense of self? You may find it helpful to bookend your movement with a cycle of breaths.

As always, we invite you to share your experiences with us via the comments below or on our Facebook page. What forms of movement bring you joy?

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