What does movement mean for you?
“If we understand that movement is life, then we can also recognise that movement is not about calorie burning, body shaping, goal achieving or simple athleticism. All of these things may really work for you, but none of them encompass the true essence of movement. Moving is about being alive; and being alive is about vitality, reducing suffering, embracing joy (among many other things).”
Do you move? What does it mean for you? Do you face obstacles: fear, time, old demons coming up for air (or is that just me!)?
So long associated with hideous memories of school, I avoided any ‘exercise’ for years. Then I very slowly started changing that. First at a gym. And laterally with running and pilates.
Now to be clear, despite the years of doing them, I am definitely a plodder with both those. Running certainly never has been, and never will be, easy. It is often a battle of wills getting out there! But I had reached a fairly consistent level that meant I knew where I was at. My body ticked over, kept relatively good health and meant that I could still have my red wine.
Then over the last few months, my body stopped playing ball.
Slowly the miles have fallen away and the positions in pilates become increasingly difficult to get into. Any expectations I may have had of myself have fallen by the wayside. I have grudgingly listened to what my body is telling me. Grudgingly because, despite the fact that I was already coming to the conclusion that my desire to run may be changing, having it imposed on me felt abit scary. Both in its unexpectedness and in the lack of control it showed I have when my body decides otherwise. What has previously been fairly much a given no longer is.
Over the years, I have undoubtedly tried to form a view on what I considered the ‘best’ types of things to do for our bodies. I have read books and journals on all manner of rationale for achieving the best from them in terms of symmetry and resilience and health. But what that has actually shown me is that I could never quite settle on what I truly thought was ‘the best’. And that’s because there just isn’t one. It’s so much down to the individual.
What I learnt through my own experiences from back pain to running injury and the ways in which I tried to ‘solve’ those was that there were some unseen criteria in me that got my body engaged in the process. And that engagement was key to their ‘effectiveness’. That actually it was my body feeling happy about doing what it was being asked to do that was the foundation for resolving the issue. Feeling safe and comfortable. And building from there.
Movement in our frenetic world can take on a different meaning.
We can get caught up in it being something we need to do in a certain way to achieve a certain end. If you strip those things away and take it back to being alive (as Ruth’s beautiful quote at the beginning says), it can become something very different. Less loaded. Finding what you enjoy. For you as the individual that you are.
So when clients come to see me and we talk about what is going on their bodies, we may well chat about movement. Because I do, without a doubt, believe movement is vital for our well-being. But I encourage exploration of what feels right for that person. Within their own capabilities and interests. If range of motion is their concern, how might some flexibility be incorporated into their week. If fitness is something they would like to improve, what lights them up to do so.
By requirement, movement is changing for me. I have been exploring and finding new ways. Lots of walking, getting out in the air and actually connecting with what I have run past a million times without noticing. A new on-line programme in which I am endeavouring to learn the moves for Zumba – and discovering I might never have the required co-ordination. But loving it nonetheless. And it’s the loving it bit I am really listening to now.
Whatever movement is for you, go with it. Find that thing that makes you want to get out and move. Or stay in and move (though the one thing I remain unchanged in my opinion on is getting air in our lungs in whatever way you can).
No matter the age of my clients, and I have worked with people in their 90s, I will always advocate moving in some form or another. Simply, imperfectly, in whatever way your body allows.