4 Essential Types of Mindful Movement

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Mindfulness isn’t just about the 10 minutes spent in the Lotus position during your daily meditation practice, it’s a part of everyday life!

Everything from eating a meal to brushing your teeth can be a mindful activity, helping to enhance your regular mindfulness meditation and bring about a range of mental and physical health benefits.

Mindful movement practices can boost focus, improve body awareness, and help you to make the most of your exercise session.

The 4 Types of Mindful Movement

While any movement can be mindful if done with the correct body awareness, there are 4 main types of physical activity that best lend themselves to meditative movement. They are; walking, stretching or yoga, physical exercise and Tai Chi. 

Walking

Mindful walking can reduce blood pressure, improve feelings of wellbeing and develop a greater appreciation for Mother Nature!

While walking is something most of us do everyday, we are often plugged into our music or a podcast, so we’re unlikely to notice what’s going on around us.

Mindful walking or a walking meditation can help you to reconnect your body and surroundings. 

mindful movement - walking

Stretching/Yoga

Yoga is the OG of mindful movement! Often combined with a mindful movement meditation, a stretching and yoga session can help immerse you in the present.

Moving slowly and consciously through stretches and poses can ease anxiety and calm your mind.

You’ll learn to breathe through tension during your yoga session, and this skill is invaluable when times get tough in your day to day life.

mindful movement - yoga

Exercise

Of course, regular exercise can also be practiced mindfully. While it’s tempting to watch our favourite TV show as we pound the treadmill, or go into our own little world while lifting weights; exercising mindfully whether at the gym or at home can be hugely beneficial.

When you pay attention to how your body feels during exercise, you may notice that it’s normally your mind that starts to give up first.

Developing muscle awareness can also help us to activate those typically lazy muscle groups and keep going for longer. You’ll be rewarded with a greater full-body workout, as well as elevated emotional wellness.

mindful movement - exercise

Tai Chi

Tai Chi, like yoga, focuses on slow movements practiced in sync with the breath. Controlled movement, meditation, a structured breathing pattern and mental imagery will help bring together the mind, body and spirit.

A regular Tai Chi practice can reduce stress, improve sleep, regulate cortisol levels and boost your immune system.

mindful movement -tai chi

What are the Benefits of Mindful Movement?

A mindful movement meditation takes a mindful movement practice one step further. A mindful movement practice involves immersing yourself in the movement, feeling your body and the endorphins that flow as you move.

A mindful movement meditation offers a richer experience. The aim is to completely absorb yourself in a meditative state.

Beginners may wish to practice in a class, while those with more experience will be able to enter this meditative state independently while practicing a mindful activity.

The Difference Between Mindful Movement and Yoga

Not all yoga is mindful movement, and not all mindful movement is yoga!

If you engage in a meditative form of yoga, mindfulness will be at the centre of your practice.

But while awareness is one of the key components of yoga, it’s possible to be mindful during almost any other physical activity.

Anything from running, swimming, lifting weights or Zumba can be done mindfully, and paying attention to what your body is doing can greatly enhance your session.

Next time you reach for your headphones and iPhone to get you through your morning 5K, try going without for just one session.

Pay attention to the sounds, the sights and the feel of your body, moving in sync with your breath. You’ll harmonise your body and mind, notice far more than you would otherwise, and you may even enjoy your session more than usual!

Key Facts

  1. Mindfulness can be integrated into almost any activity, and it’s especially beneficial when incorporated into your daily exercise routine.

  2. Walking, stretching, lifting weights at the gym and Tai Chi are all forms of exercise which can be practiced mindfully.

  3. The benefits of mindful movement include reduced stress, a better mood and improved focus
  4. A mindful movement meditation involves moving your body in sync with your breath and with full awareness, eventually entering a deeply calming meditative state.

  5. To integrate mindfulness into your exercise routine, try going without music and instead paying attention to your surroundings and the feel of your body.