Most of us, myself included, probably think of “moving mindfully” in relation to yoga, or working out, or heavy lifting, or anything that is a practice requiring physical focus.
Well, this piece is a gentle reminder to us all that injury can occur during even the most unexpected, of even mundane activities. I have recently heard of really terrible injuries, one of which was my Momma’s. She was taking her usual brisk walk with a friend and, at the startling noise of something, looked up and her foot landed in a dip in the pavement. The fall she took resulted in tearing ligaments and tendons from the bone and an injury that, many months later, is still on the road to recovery. I also saw a friend who tore both ACL and MCL doing laundry! The simple motion of picking up the laundry basket without turning his feet resulted in crutches and an imperative operation. It’s awful! It reminds me that we can hurt ourselves severely even when we least expect it. This is not reason to worry or be paranoid, but rather to increase our mindfulness in everything that we do.
So, how do we avoid pain, strain and injury?
…did any of you guess my first prescription would be yoga? Ding ding ding! DO YOGA.
Yoga increases mindfulness tenfold. It brings you in touch with your inner workings, with the mind/body connection that people so often refer to, and with the unique nature of your own body.
Our bodies work very differently. We all have individual strengths and weak spots, and each must be respected and embraced equally. This is a key lesson that yoga has taught me that nothing else has. In my experience working out in gyms, playing sports, working with personal trainers, I never ever was urged to listen to my own body and not do something that hurt. I’m not chastising those venues of exercise at all, I’m simply acknowledging that yoga has placed me in the best shape of my life because it has implored me to listen to my own body and my own body alone.
By listening to none other than my own body and feelings and muscles and mind, I have realized where I need to pull back and where I can really push myself. Naturally I am referring to the asana practice of yoga and not the spiritual and meditative aspects of my practice (although there is a gentle nudge present in that realm as well, urging one to respect one’s own boundaries and have patience).
Yoga teaches us to leave the EGO out – something that our society, and human nature, makes out to be incredibly challenging.
My second prescription is breathing. If you apply prescription one, prescription two (pranayama) comes along with it. So basically prescription one is a package deal 🙂
By breathing fully and deeply we are less inclined to act in jerky, rushed movements. We are more likely to pick up our feet and turn them with our bodies, we are more likely to engage the muscles we need instead of skimping and trying to move quickly. We are more likely to roll the neck and shoulders around, stretching and breathing, keeping the blood flowing and the mind alert. Breathing deeply makes for a more alert brain. It is a simple fact. We yawn not only because we are tired, but because our brian is saying, “Help me, I need some more oxygen!” So breathe. Deep belly breaths that fill the lungs and purify the body.
Prescription three is to stay present. Okay, I give in. Yoga is the key to increasing one’s mindfulness in daily life. By focusing on what you’re doing right this instant you are putting your body in its best position to do what it’s doing right now (for you sitting and reading this, that may mean sitting up straight, applying proper posture, letting go of unnecessary tension in the neck, shoulders, jaw and face). Even if it’s standing and doing the dishes…release the unnecessary tension, relax the face, relax the mind, engage the abdominals to support the back, stand with the feet, knees and hips in line…you don’t have to be practicing yoga on a mat to practice yoga!
Showing the body respect in the moment by filling it with breath, mindfulness and utter presence, is a wonderful gift that you can give yourself all day long, everyday.
Yes, you still have the right to zone out and relax of course! That right there a key component to wellness! Just be aware while relaxing. Let the relaxation really seep into your skin, into your being, let it fill you with the peace and restfulness that you so deserve. Don’t rush yourself through relaxation by hammering away in your mind about the dishes that need doing, the car that needs washing, the lunch that needs packing…give yourself the time you deserve to breathe into your serenity, your peace. And then, when the time comes to do those chores, you will likely be far more mindful and present for them by having bathed in your relaxation while you took it.
Being aware of our physicality whilst driving, sitting, laying, walking, standing, crouching, lifting, working, practicing, meditating, living, we are increasing our likelihood of living pain, strain and injury free lives.
So, with that, I wish you a beautiful day, and a life of abundant wellness!