So, I am no dancer and I am no yoga instructor, but I am a practitioner of intuitive movement to my favorite music that allows me to tune in to where my body wants to stretch. I have a background in fitness leadership and have done my fair share of yoga and aerobics in my time, but these days I just don’t find I feel called to go to many classes. But, I can stretch in my own home at any time, and it only takes a few minutes. Even when I don’t have the opportunity to do any other movement, I like to do a stretch because of the mental, emotional and physical benefits. And adding in the therapeutic benefits of music means that I’m value adding to my movement practice.
Here are some instructions you might try:
- When you need an Attention Restoration break, you’re feeling a bit stiff in your body, or you just want to move, turn on your favorite music.
- Find a space you can move in, find some privacy, and just listen to the place where your body wants to join the music in an emergent response.
- As you are moving, invite your body to tell you where it needs to stretch, and very gently reach into those stretches. You might not have even realized you were tight in a particular place in your body until you invited it to tell you about it. Listening to your body is different to listening to your mind – don’t wait to hear words or instructions; simply invite emergence. One way to do this might be to simply start moving to prime the pump, and then allow your intuition to take over and move you into whatever resonates next.
- Move slowly to the music, reaching to the places where your muscles are just starting to feel a stretch. There’s no need to hold the stretch for a particular length of time – let your body tell you how it’s ready to move.
- You might feel called to lay on the floor or to plant your feet in a wide stance and to move from that foundation, or to use the wall or furniture to push against or rest your limbs against – allow your body to instruct you, and if you’re not hearing anything from your body, just try out some stretches you already know and ask your body how each one of those feels.
- There is no particular length of time to do this practice – simply come to completion when it feels right. This might be after 2 minutes, after 20 minutes, after an hour. Any of these are beautiful emergent self-compassion practices.
- When completion has arrived, simply rest in your experience of what it’s like to be in your body for a while. How does your body feel now? Can you linger in an awareness of your body that is non-conceptual? Can you simply “be” for a while?
You can practice emergent stretching at any time! Try recruiting the help of a Bell of Mindfulness desktop app (here for Chrome and here for Firefox) to remind you to move. What a beautiful way to hold yourself through your day!
We’ll be exploring more ways to tend to our body in the Somatic Self-Compassion program. I hope I see you there!