Freedom in movement brings freedom from stress

July 5th, 2018

Mindful movements provide a productive outlet to release pent up energy that would otherwise make us feel aggressive and anxious, helping us to feel more relaxed and experience better quality sleep. Exercise decreases the risk of developing certain diseases especially high blood pressure and cholesterol. Chronic stress physiologically releases a hormone called adrenaline which contribute to increasing risk of heart disease, signs of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, exercise decreases stress levels and regulates adrenaline levels keeping heart disease at bay.

The mindful movement is an embodied learning, it releases endorphins but also forces us to pay attention to our breathing that promote feelings of calm and wellness and frees us from the cycle of negative thought patterns. The movement paired up with breath awareness releases stress, physiologically the release of hormones from the exercise decreases the risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol from lower adrenaline levels and psychologically the release of endorphins enhances our energy levels, helping us to feel calm and clear in our thoughts.

Exercise can be very broad ranging from running to weight lifting, in yoga there is a strong emphasis on balance between strength and flexibility. Using body weight as resistance with our movements it provides both aerobic and anaerobic exercise as well as being combined with breath awareness. Balancing poses help to bring awareness to the present moment and to each breath, serving to suspend the mental chatter and invite an inner calm. The flexibility component empowers us to confront areas of stiffness and tension in the body, stretching lets us dissolve tension in the mind and body as we breathe through resistances and find comfort and acceptance in a situation where we would have a ‘fight or flight’ stress response. This acceptance gives us permission to be kind and gentle with ourselves encouraging non-judgement with ourselves directly impacting our self-worth making us feel more confident. The lesson of breathing, staying with the pose and letting the tightness dissolve with time is then extended off the yoga mat invoking a self-acceptance in challenging situations we face in life, accentuating our sense of inner strength and mental adaptability to handle a circumstance that would have otherwise evoked a stress response.

The mindful movements combine all elements of balance, strength and flexibility by threading the practice with breath awareness. The constant interplay between these three aspects depends greatly on what is needed for each individual as some may be more naturally flexible with a need for stability while others are stronger with a greater need for mobility. What is required on a physical level is reflected on a psychological level to achieve an integrated personality. Muscular strength builds inner strength and will power whereas flexibility brings open mindedness. The continuous learning enhances neural plasticity, which is where the brain is creating new pathways and connective neural pathways. This helps us learn and adapt without being rigid in our thinking that deepen the same repeated neural pathways.

Movements that synchronize with breathing and balancing imbibe a physical freedom and a mental composure, we explore moving meditations and functional movements creating stability with strength and mobility with stretch. Active conscious breathing techniques are used to encourage fluidity in movements and in static stretching we examine the thoughts attached to the tension driving the physical tightness. The dynamic flow improves energy levels and developing flexibility stimulates the release of negative emotions thereby collectively reducing stress. Each breath is thematically linked with a physical movement to keep you in the present moment and as we clear physical stiffness mental agitation melts away gaining a deeper state of relaxation through the holistic practice.

 

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