Creating a Daily Movement Practice & Why It's So Important
Every morning when I wake up, I take at least 20-30 minutes to practice either yoga or an aerobic/strength-based exercise routine. If I have an early morning client or lesson, I’ll instead switch my daily movement practice to the evening, which usually consists of more gentle movement like restorative or Hatha yoga. But let me tell you, I wasn’t always this disciplined in my movement practice.
I grew up as a dancer, so yes, I regularly went to the studio about 4-5x/week. Even in college, where I studied dance, I was also moving my body every single day. But then my routine took a big turn. I decided to take a break from dancing at a professional level and instead shifted to the practice yoga. The shift in my movement practice took time to develop. For the first couple of years, both before and after my yoga teacher training, I really thought that a movement or yoga practice had to be at least 60 minutes and always in the studio. This very rigid approach prevented me from exercising when I didn’t have access to a studio class. It wasn’t until COVID hit that I truly began to practice yoga, strength training, and aerobics in the comfort of my own home. And since then, both my mental health and physical health have significantly improved.
So why am I telling you this? I want you to know that from both a physical therapy and yoga perspective, creating some type of daily movement practice is critical to maintain long term health benefits and prevent conditions like muscle atrophy, osteoporosis, low back pain, chronic pain etc.
How much should you exercise?
The CDC recommends that adults participate in moderate-intensity aerobic activity for 30 minutes, 5 days of the week. Moderate intensity exercise includes walking, biking, yoga, swimming etc. They also recommend that adults participate in some sort of muscle strengthening to all major muscle groups 2 or more days the week. Muscle strengthening could mean lifting weights or (if you’re like me) using your own body weight in exercises like Chaturanga push-ups or yoga arm balances.
How to stay motivated?
Something that has really helped me maintain a home movement practice is simply carving out a space in my home for my yoga mat, hand weights, bolster, blocks etc. This space does not need to be big by any means. It could simply be a corner of your living room. As long as you have enough space to move safely, the space is enough. I highly recommend you put your yoga mat in a place where you will see it every single day. Just looking at your mat will remind you to practice.
What if you’re not feeling motivated and you’re really tired?
Oh, I’ve been there! I know that feeling very well. And let me tell you, even though I start off feeling tired and fatigued, I always feel better after moving. On those sleepy gray days, allow yourself to do less. Simple stretching like Hatha yoga or restorative yoga will still help you breathe deeply and promote introspection which has many health benefits like stress and pain reduction. The next time you have a “lazy day” it’s ok. But I encourage you to at least practice something. This could be your favorite yoga asana or stretching series – even legs up the wall will do.
Like taking a class, but don’t have time to leave home?
Totally get it! I recommend either going on YouTube and searching your favorite style of exercise like “30-minute power yoga” or “beginners strength for upper body” for a free way to participate in a group class. You can also purchase a subscription to an online studio or fitness center.
Online studios that I recommend:
By carving out a small amount of time every single day to move, you are setting yourself up for success and resilience later on in your life. The patients I see who were exercising regularly prior to their injury or complaint, seem to always improve significantly faster than the patients who don’t exercise. So, move your body. Listen to what it needs and give it just that. Nothing is stopping you!
Hope you enjoyed and benefited from this blog post. Feel free to leave a comment below with any thoughts or questions :)
With light and love, Dana