Welcome to the first part in a miniseries exploring intuitive movement. I hope you’ll find this article, and those to come, helpful in supporting you to reconnect with movement that best cares for you and your body.
There’s no doubt that exercise has become big business – gyms are popping up everywhere, thousands of people are completing personal training courses, workouts and “transformation challenges” can be purchased online, and the latest fitness fad is ever-changing. There’s no shortage of people telling us the “best” way to move our bodies, from highly credible and qualified exercise professionals to the concerningly less credible celebrities and Instagram fitness-gurus.
Among this sea of voices, it’s easy for the most important one to be drowned out: your own.
Intuitive movement encourages you to connect with internal cues – those offered by both your body and mind – and then allow these to guide what type of movement you choose to undertake, when, for how long, and at what intensity. It lets you be the expert and in turn allows you to foster a healthy and happy relationship with movement.
External cues and knowledge from exercise professionals can be incorporated into intuitive movement – so if you’re training for a marathon, working on rehab, or love attending group fitness classes, you can still be intuitive in your movement. There’ll be more on this to come!
There are no rules nor a “one size fits all” approach when it comes to intuitive movement, however there are a number of principles you can use to begin incorporating intuitive movement into your life. In this article, let’s explore the first three principles.
#1 Give Yourself Full Permission
Moving intuitively is really tricky if you are still holding expectations or rules around your movement patterns. Offer yourself a clean slate, even for just a few days or a week, where you’ll truly let yourself move based on internal rather than external cues. Remove any expectations about the type, duration, intensity, or frequency of movement that you’ll do.
You might find that you don’t feel like moving at all, this is particularly common if your previous movement has been motivated by guilt or shame rather than nourishment and enjoyment. It’s ok to take that time off. Really.
In contrast, you might notice that things are feeling really good and you’re happily exploring different types or intensities of movement. Have fun with this!
#2 Listen to Body and Mind
Movement offers a huge range of benefits physically, as well as emotionally, mentally, and socially. When connecting with internal cues around exercise, take some time to think of what your body is telling you as well as what your mind is telling you.
Maybe your body feels like some gentle movement and your mind is craving some social interaction – call your best friend and head out for a walk together.
Maybe you feel like something physically intense and mentally stimulating – what about a ballet or hip hop class? Or boxing?
Maybe your body is tight from sitting at a desk all day and you are feeling really stressed – some restorative yoga might be delightful.
Maybe you feel like moving a bit but are stressed trying to fit in a billion and one different chores – how about cranking some of your favourite tunes and vacuuming the house? (Yes – that counts as movement too!)
Maybe you’re physically and mentally exhausted – a cup of tea and your favourite TV show sounds like a great idea.
#3 Take Time to Connect Before, During, and After Movement
When listening for those mind and body internal cues, notice them before, during, and after movement. This can be a lovely way to determine if:
- you want to move, and in what way
- you are looking forward to movement or if you need to consider including more joyful movement (more on this to come)
- the movement you’ve chosen is what is best for you in the given moment
- you want to increase or decrease the intensity or duration of movement
- the movement leaves you feeling good, energised, and happy
- you might need to change the movement for next time (maybe you overdid it or maybe you could challenge yourself more)
- your body is responding well to movement; are you improving in areas you want to? Is your body developing or healing any injuries?
Time to practice…
Starting to move intuitively doesn’t happen from reading an article (I know, it’s disappointing). Over this coming week, I invite you to start practicing these first principles of intuitive movement. Be kind and compassionate – it is practice after all. If you’re feeling uncertain about making changes*, know that you don’t need to actively change your movement behaviours or thoughts straight away. You can just begin to become aware of them.
I’d love to hear how you go! Feel free to connect via Facebook, Instagram (@ahealthyparadigm), or Twitter (@healthyparadigm) and let me know what you’re enjoying about intuitive movement, what you’re finding hard, or what you are confused about.
I might even do a video post (Eeeek! Hello vulnerability) with answers to any specific questions.
In the next part of Intuitive Movement: The Miniseries we’ll explore some more principles around movement vs exercise, joyful movement, ebbs and flows in fitness, and curiosity rather than judgement.
Part Two is now live – check it out here.
*If you are feeling highly anxious around making any changes to your movement/exercise pattern, I highly encourage you to check in with your GP or a mental health professional (please contact me if you require a recommendation).