Not everyone is an athlete; not everyone opens their eyes like clockwork with the sunrise; not everyone can jump out of bed and straight into a workout. But, this is often the standard that you feel you have to live up to when considering movement in your life. And it’s a rigid standard to reach, an even harder one to maintain, especially if you wouldn’t class yourself as all that fitness-y. And so the result? The movement in your life becomes forced, something you feel you have to do, something you think you should do, because it’s good for you... right?
Well, yes, movement is an integral and essential part of your overall health, but if this forced structure impacts your mental state, then it’s time to find something that fits your lifestyle more seamlessly. It’s time to find a movement that feels intuitive. The goal here is to create a peaceful and even enjoyable relationship with movement.
The concept of intuitive movement comes from deeply connecting with your body and listening to its cues. What is the body telling you about what it needs today? What type of movement is it craving, for how long, and at what intensity? This idea incorporates a level of mindfulness and relies on stopping and listening to yourself and your body deeply. In doing so, you build a deeper connection with your body, one full of love, allowing you to embrace movement rather than resist or force it. The result creates a much healthier and happier relationship that will enable you to rise up and thrive.
When beginning to incorporate intuitive movement into your life, consider these things:
Prioritise movement over exercise
It’s time to let go of that archaic idea that every time you exercise, you must be left dripping, entirely out of breath and exhausted… because that doesn’t sound particularly fun does it? Instead, redefine your definition of exercise. Because, here’s the thing, any movement is exercise. If you are constantly striving for the hard-hitting sessions and then feel confused or deflated if you don’t follow through, start trying to set aside time for any movement at all. That could be a walk, a run, a dance, a swim, or even an intense cleaning session. Of course, sometimes you might be craving an epic sweaty sesh, and when those feelings come, absolutely, lean into them.
Become curious and do what you enjoy
If you are sitting here thinking, well, I can’t name a type of movement that I do enjoy… It’s time to get creative. Be curious, sign yourself up for a range of different classes, think yoga, pilates, dance classes, boxing, or martial arts. You might even consider joining a casual sports team - perhaps a sport you played when you were younger. The main point here is to find something that you enjoy - something you can look forward to rather than dread. Another trick can be to bring two loves together. Perhaps you love Mondays because the next episode of your favourite podcast is released. So then, make Mondays the day you walk and listen to your podcast.
Think about your lifestyle
When trying to embrace more intuitive movement, it can be beneficial to look at your lifestyle. If you’ve been pushing yourself to wake up early and “get it done”, but find that incredibly hard because you are a night owl, then lean into your nocturnal tendencies. Make movement something you do after work rather than in the early AM when you are more likely to skip it. There is absolutely no right or wrong way to embrace movement, all that matters it’s that it feels right and intuitive to you.
Be loose and flexible
Routines are wonderful things; they can set you up for success by reducing the mental load of making decisions every day. But if you are trying to stick to a rigid routine of working out for an hour every single day, then you could be setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead, embrace flexibility and understanding. Know that you are allowed to listen to your body and understand that sometimes life does get in the way of your plans.
Embrace shorter time frames, more often
If you find it challenging to psych yourself up for moving your body because you feel like you have to work out for a long time, then ditch this idea. Instead, opt for short bursts, walk down to the shops instead of driving, or jump onto Youtube for 20 minutes of gentle yoga rather than a 60 min intense flow. This is when you practise listening to your body and don’t force yourself to do the things you really don’t feel like doing. We bet you’ll end up moving more frequently this way!