Ok, so go with me on this! I know I'm a yoga teacher that encourages the exploration of stillness, that actively asks people to sit a breathe and that encourages a slower perspective on life.
But, I'm worried we've gone too far!
As I've delved into the cycles of stress, and learnt more and more about how our body processes emotions, the importance of movement keeps coming up. And during this year of lockdowns it's even more vital than before.
We are humans built to move our bodies, to use our bodies and to live active lives. (I preface this with the understanding that some of us may not be able to be fully active due to health, but even the smallest amount of movement in those cases is still better than none)
Our emotions aren't just things that happen in the mind, they are body felt, body activated and need to be discharged through the body too.
If we don't fully move out these emotions they become stuck, and in doing so we become stuck with and in the emotion.
Physical movement is therefore vital to discharge the energy that is sent through our body in the form of hormones such as adrenaline for us to fully be able to relax, recharge and heal.
When we get stressed our body is charged with adrenaline along with many other hormones that prepare us to run, fight and move our way out of the danger, most of the time though, stress now is cased by emails, bosses, children, partners and not by lions in bushes. So instead of moving our way out of stress, we think our way out, and to unwind at the end of the day we have a glass of wine, watch our favourite tv show, maybe we even meditate, do a yoga nidra, take a bath, and chill.
So what's the problem you may ask?
The problem is, all the hormones that were released within our bodies are still there, in the muscles ready for action, so our mind may have relaxed, but our body is still wired for fight, and the only way to discharge this energy is to move it. To get our heart pumping and our muscles moving.
This is why when you go for a walk you tend to feel better, movement helps complete the stress cycle.
If we never really move our bodies in a way that gets our heart beating strongly, we will always be carrying around those stress hormones in our muscles. Slowly adding more and more to them, slowly increasing our internal stress level.
This means our body never fully relaxes, we are always somewhere in the stress cycle, so we never fully rest, we never fully recharge, we never fully engage with healing.
Movement is vital for us to stay calm.
This is why in most yoga classes you'll move before you head to shavasana, this is why children work better at school after PE, and why when we've had a day outside being physical we mostly sleep better.
We are designed to move as much a we are designed to breathe deeply and not look at screens.
Chatting with other spiritual health teachers I worry that the image of us spending our lives being still and slow is not a totally truthful image, most of these health care people have other hobbies, and jobs that require movement too, but because they don't always fit the image of a zenned out yoga teacher they aren't shared on their social media pages.
But the key is balance, movement and stillness, activity and rest.
Look deeper at your teachers lives and you'll see they aren't all just sitting all day, they don't just do yoga. Most spend hours each day outside too, being active, whether its chopping wood for their fires, climbing trees, riding horses, running, walking long distances, joining hiit classes, wild swimming or so many other ways to move, most move.
As we hang out in this second lockdown, with the days not so warm and sunny, don't forget to move as well as find stillness.