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Create Your Own Bliss by Finding Your Flow

Subtitle: Make time for a mental break through physical movement

Do not let the demands of everyday life consume your mind

Remember to make time for a mental break through physical movement. I am not talking about making sure you include exercise into your daily or weekly routine because let’s be honest that is not a mental break that is work. Going to the gym and getting on that treadmill, elliptical machine, stationary bike, taking a cycling class or doing any of these forms of exercise at home takes discipline and focus which requires you to think about the things you are doing. In other words, exercise requires you to use your mental muscle to ensure that you are executing the movements correctly, burning the right number of calories and or working on bringing your heart rate up to the right level. This opens the door for yet another form of stress on the mind and body.

This is why it is important to “Find Your Flow” through movements that allow your body to relax and your mind to unwind

We all know that stretching the muscles before and after a workout is an essential part of an exercise routine so I wouldn’t dare say to eliminate doing so for any reason. However, what I will say is to use that after workout stretching time as a time of relaxation as well. Stretching and relaxing can easily be combined with basic Yoga movements and practicing stillness. I am speaking from experience not as an expert instructor of any exercise program so please do not take what I am saying as scientific, or expert advice.

This is simply me sharing suggestions of ways to destress and relax through sharing what has worked for me. When I was an active dancer, I practiced both Yoga and Pilates as a form of conditioning and still do so on my own as part of my exercise and relaxation routine. So, I am very familiar with both practices. Coming from a dancer’s background it was hard for me to transition into exercising to stay in shape and I found for me doing so was stressful at times and felt like work whereas dance felt like life. Dancing was always fun even when challenging so it never felt like work even though it required discipline and practice. This was because dance was and still is my passion.

I am not one who likes to go to the gym or really to do any form of exercise, but I knew that I needed to incorporate it into my lifestyle in order to stay healthy, knowing this I walk just about every day either in the house (when the weather is not optimal) or around my community, incorporate light weightlifting and would sometimes follow an exercise video or two. But as I mentioned earlier all of those things felt like work to me and I found myself dreading to have to do any of it which in turn would raise my stress level of forcing myself to get it done. After a while I began to realize that I always felt better after I stretched at the end of the workout or when I would choose to do my own sequence of Yoga or Pilates movements without following a regimented instructor lead practice.

With that revelation I began to focus less on the breaths or counts and more on how my body flowed or responded to the movements without the stress of the purpose, counts or specific breathing pattern to think about. Do not get me wrong there are still time when I will follow a structured Yoga program or pull out my Pilates book and work through a preplanned routine for the purpose of exercising and strengthening and stretching the body; but now I also take a few minutes at the end of my workout or on certain days to just Flow!

Now I know that both Yoga and Pilates are well known forms of exercise and have their own important body positions, breathing and counting methods and are useful in creating a more flexible and lean body over time. I also know that there are many different forms of Yoga and that most if not, all incorporate meditation within the practice, so I am not in any way taking anything from that.  But what I am saying is that you can use basic stretching or Yoga movements as a way to relax without the pressure of the counts or breathing techniques. This is where Finding Your Flow can help.

Let’s sidestep for a minute

Although I mention that I utilize both Yoga and Pilates for relaxation purposes I am not going to suggest using Pilates in that way because it is a very specific and strict practice that requires proper placement of the spine, neck and the body in general. Pilates it not one that can simply be done by anyone as there is a risk of injury when the positions are not executed correctly and just like Yoga there are also several different versions of it. However, there is plenty of information about it on the internet and I do suggest that you consider learning more about it and incorporating it into your exercise lifestyle. 

Here are a couple of websites where you can learn more about it: Pilatesdigest.com, Verywellfit.com. Do not get discouraged if you are hit with the visuals of Pilates equipment and how expensive they are, look for information on floor or mat versions of Pilates that can be done without equipment.

Let’s back to Finding Your Flow by focusing on how you can take basic Yoga and stretching positions and combine them to form a flow of relaxation

I found that this is easy to do because there are a few simple Yoga poses that are very similar or the same as some everyday stretches that we do so they can be interchangeable. For instance, sometimes it is nice to just be in some of the basic poses of Yoga with your eyes closed using a normal breath while taking the time to calm your mind removing the constant thoughts of what has to be done next.

Creating a constant flow with the movements can also aid in mental relaxation. For example: instead of standing in Mountain Pose for the usual number of breaths before moving to the next pose freely move from Mountain to Tree to Warrior to Triangle then work your way to sit on the floor in a position that it is comfortable for you to do so. From there you can move into an Upward-Facing Dog roll over to a seated Forward Fold and end in the Corpse pose all without thinking about the counts or the breaths just flow through the movements or hold them as long as you like taking natural breaths throughout. You can find examples of these poses at: Greatist.com: Common Yoga Poses.

You can use basic stretching movements in the same way. A sample flow of movement would be to: sit on the floor in butterfly pose (knees bent, feet together), sliding your legs out into Pike then opening up to straddle. Or standing in a lung then turning to center into a standing straddle folding your body forward and reaching towards or touching the floor with your hands. From there raise up reaching to the sky then bend backward to stretch your back. These are of course just suggested examples of a sequence you can do to move from a focused exercise to a moment of flowing relaxation. I hope that they inspire you to find that space for yourself so that you can “Create Your Own Bliss” by “Finding Your Flow”.

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