Its not exactly a New Year’s resolution, as I find these restrictive and hard to keep. It is an intention to aim for each day. Without intention, I’m on auto-pilot, and depending on when I last set the destination may not take me where I want to go today. Without an intention, I am literally aimless.
When I say more movement, I’m not talking about exercise as such, though that may be part of it. My main idea is that its too easy to sit around and be inactive in my life. I sit to eat breakfast, I sit at my desk to write, check emails, sit in my car to get to work sometimes, sit a bit with clients as we check-in and get our starting point, sit for lunch, for dinner and to watch some tv or read a book and when I meditate. That’s quite a lot of sitting.
I do walk a bit, cycle to and from work or the station once or twice a week, walk to school (barely 5 mins walk) and to the local shops, sometimes I walk through the park, the local woods and even out in the hills. And I know that in all honesty, there are days when I walk up and down stairs to work in my Teaching Room, answer the door and potter around the kitchen. All this barely amounts to a few hundred steps.
Last year I got rid of my sofa so now I move more when I’m relaxing and have down-time. I sit on the floor, on a cushion, I lie down, I roll, I sit with one leg out and the other tucked under, legs crossed, squatting – quite a variety of movement. This is the kind of movement I want more of in my life.
Now I’m sleeping bed-free for the next six months so I’m seeing the increase in movements as I get up and down to the mat on the floor. Rolling on the firm floor feels good. My bones are increasingly less kinked and more fluid. The muscular attachments are more supple, the range of movement a little more available for a variety of movements.
One idea I heard on Katy Bowman’s Podcast about a woman who includes litter-picking on her daily walk. I’m already a keen litter-picker and will often bend down on my way home from the school-run and pick up a couple of sweet wrappers, or a tin can on my way home. I like to keep my neighbourhood clean and have less rubbish going into the stream or spoiling the natural environment. Now that I heard about someone doing this as part of their daily movement plan, it occurs to me there is a lot of quality and nourishing movement possibilities in this simple act. In order to get my hand down to the ground, I need to let my hips, knees and ankles bend.
Its also necessary to stay breathable – I say this quite intentionally instead of ‘breathing’, as our breath will come and go by itself if we let it and don’t interfere with it. There is no need to push or pull the air around or tell it what to do. As I walk and move, I keep monitoring my breathing and try and let myself be, so my body’s wisdom can sort out the exchange of air, like the tide on the beach.
This simple action aligns with my values of trying to have less plastic in my life – so when I have finished eating frozen peas, I can reuse the bag to go and collect bits of rubbish from my local area.
I do intend to get out and have some fresh air each and every day, so again the idea of picking up litter fits with that. There isn’t much litter in my house, so I need to go out to find it. And if I continue to walk the same paths each day, then its unlikely I’ll find fresh litter. So this simple idea will help me find variety in my daily walks.
I intend to walk for at least 20 minutes a day.
Well that walk didn’t happen today already, but I did get out on my bike and do 20 minutes each way to work and back. I’m pleased with that.
Even if I’m feeling unwell, I want to open a window, step outside the back door and wait for a few lungs-full of fresh air to naturally exchange places with the stale air within.
Small steps taken regularly.
Small steps taken regularly amount to more.
Small steps taken regularly amount to more movement.
Small steps taken regularly amount to more movement daily.
Lucy Ascham is an Alexander Technique Teacher who delights in the details of mindful movement in everyday activities. Working in Sheffield and Manchester.