What is mind-body exercise and why is mindful movement exercise important? We all know it’s important to exercise for our physical health. Exercise releases the feel-good endorphins, and it also helps us clear our minds. But it’s also important to practice exercise for our mental health. What if there was a specific type of exercise that is great at both? There is– it’s mind-body exercise! But what is mind-body exercise? And why is mindful movement exercise important?
What is Mind-Body Exercise?
Mind-body connection exercises are things like tai chi, yoga, and Pilates. They are movements that focus your attention inward and on your breath. Connecting movement to inward focus is not only good for us, but it makes us feel good too. Instead of feeling worn out at the end of exercise, mind-body exercises leave us feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.
Mind-body exercises are intentional movements that teach you to concentrate and be mindful. The best anchor to the present moment, the here and now, is breathing. The only breath you have is the one you’re taking right now. By incorporating attention to your breathing, mind-body exercises are important for bringing us to the present moment–which is the only moment that actually exists. The mindfulness that results from mind-body exercises helps us pay better attention for showing up for ourselves and our loved ones. The more you practice being mindful and paying attention, the better you get at it–just like anything!
Why Is Mindful Movement Exercise Important?
But why practice a mind-body exercise like yoga when running clearly burns more calories and gets your heart rate moving faster? Because while mind-body connection exercise has all the same benefits as any exercise, it also has additional mental health benefits beyond regular exercise. Your exercise routine can include more than one kind of exercise, and it’s good for your physical and mental health to switch it up.
Mind-body Connection Exercise Benefits
Mind-body exercise has many benefits. First off, it keeps you present and mindful. Being present and mindful helps regulate the nervous system and lower your stress by activating your parasympathetic nervous system, which slows our breathing and our heart rate. It lowers blood pressure and promotes digestion. It allows our body to enter a state of relaxation, which is how our body heals and recovers. This relaxation lowers your stress.
We all hold stress, trauma, and emotions in our bodies. Movement and exercise help process these emotions and stresses, helping us to feel better.
One of the ways to move emotions or trauma and complete the stress cycle (the body’s natural response to stress) in your body is movement.
Focusing the attention inward or on the breath while simultaneously getting a physical workout is a win-win. Mind-body exercise helps to release trauma so that we can process it and close the open wound or cycle. If you want to learn more about this process, I highly recommend reading Burnout by Emily Nagoski PhD and Amelia Nagoski DMA.
There are so many benefits to lowering your stress–like lowering your risk of disease and depression. But one less common benefit that people talk about is that when you’re less stressed, you’re more aligned with your higher self and more in touch with your subconscious mind. When you’re in a relaxed state and aligned with your higher self, you’re able to tap into your intuition and in turn live a meaningful, purposeful life. This relaxed state of mind allows us to get quiet and go within and listen to the part of ourselves that is separate from our ego and will get us into a balanced state. When you’re in a balanced state, you’re able to live your life in alignment, which gives us purpose and joy.
Whoever you are, an athlete or a couch potato, mind-body exercise is good for your mental health and wellness.
Mind-body exercises are also low impact, which make them easily accessible. If you’re active, you can do a mind-body exercise as a complement to your workouts. It’s a great activity for a rest day from higher intensity workouts like lifting weights or running. If you’re not very active, mind-body exercises are a great start to leading a more active lifestyle.