Up and Down
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Years ago I took a series of trainings in a movement practice called Nia. It is a fitness based dance program that focuses on seeking joy, finding joy and sustaining joy. It is a fun way to exercise because I think any time that we are dancing we feel happier. It is a very physically demanding practice that was inspired by all kinds of dance and other forms of movement (martial arts, yoga etc.).
One thing that I remember from the training was when the instructor talked about the importance of being able to get up and down off of the floor for our whole lives. Nia included dance, floor work and relaxation with the intention of getting people up and down in every class. I was young at the time and didn’t get the connection between this vigorous exercise and people being able to get up off the floor. I remember thinking “this is silly, everyone can get up off the floor.” Fast forward 20 years and I now have parents and students who are working hard to be able to get up off the ground when they fall skiing, snowshoeing or on the ice. What I am realizing is that it is great to have an exercise program where we are getting up and down, but it is also good to just keep moving in a whole bunch of ways in our every day lives to keep our strength, flexibility and balance strong.
Gardening is a perfect example of an activity that requires a lot of range of movement. Planting, weeding and digging all require the gardener to be agile. When working in your kitchen you can use the sink for support as you do a few exercises that build strength in the legs and work on balance such as half squats, heel lifts, toe lifts, side leg lifts and back leg lifts to name a few. When you are talking on the phone you could sit on a chair with your spine nice and long and do a few big shoulder rotations moving your arm in one direction and another. You could circle your elbows, wrists and move your fingers. You could take your arm out to the side and rotate it, or even take your arm behind you and massage your neck. We all spend time sitting at a desk and there are lots of possibilities to do twists, neck stretches, side bending and forward bending exercises in between our emails or letter writing. Being able to get up off the ground requires not only strength and flexibility, but also an ability to move your body in many different ways and trust that you can do it.
Challenging yourself in small ways on a regular basis can help to build confidence and creative problem solving that is going to help when something happens. Aging is a natural part of life and accepting that regular activity built into your every day life is going to be helpful to you and the people around you.