Being active is an integral part of my life and, despite this I intermittently experience mixed feelings toward exercise. There are periods when the relationship is more one of duty than pleasure, and others when it is my life line.
Exercise is an activity that we know is good for us but there are times when it is difficult to just get up and do it. The road blocks are varied and may range from practical time restraints, to a lack of energy or motivation issues, but mostly we know that if we can get past these limiting factors we feel so much better for having participated.
Movement is not only my business it is my language and my medicine. How, when and why I move is a direct reflection of where I am in my life. When working with clients I also observe where they are in their own lives and look at how movement can best support them and their specific needs. I believe exercise feels good when it meets us where we are at. There are times when we need to slow down and be kind to ourselves and yoga can offer beautiful options that allow us to work and move the body whilst staying mindful and careful. At other times, when I am too much in my head I find I need to move to get back into my body. I am fortunate to have a creek and nature trails at my doorstep so going for a long walk or run outside amongst the greenery calms my mind. There are other times when life moves quickly and grounding is the antidote and this is when a strength training session or a strong, dynamic yoga session can be helpful in stabilising foundations.
As I have gotten older I have come to know my body and mind more intimately and I am thus able to listen better and adapt my exercise regimen accordingly. These are lessons I have learnt through trial and error and I continue to adjust and experiment with my own exercise routine. As a young dancer I would push myself hard whilst providing inadequate amounts of fuel and support to my body. In the early days of teaching group exercise classes in commercial gyms I was trying to make a living teaching too many weekly classes whilst expecting myself to find reserves of energy and enthusiasm where there was none. More recently my challenge is one of balancing my ego’s desire for accomplishment with by body’s more immediate need for controlled rehabilitation work.
Part of the challenge in reaching optimal wellness is recognising what our needs are, what is not working, and then ultimately pursuing that which brings balance back into our lives. Perhaps your exercise session needs to provide some alone time, or a social opportunity. For some team bonding and competition can help with stress relief whilst for others something rhythmic and repetitive can provide calm.
Exercise should leave you feeling great. It is a proven mood enhancer and an important factor in our overall health however if you do not have a positive experience it may be that your needs are not being listened to and/or met. In the same way that we need to change and adapt our diet according to age, lifestyle, season, etc. so too we must factor in our individual needs when exercising. Listening and being mindful is an integral part of a positive outcome.