I love to move.
I need to move.
Why is it that moving that makes us feel better?
For one, exercise releases endorphins, those feel good hormones. Movement also opens up energy pathways so that your body functions better. Mention low energy, tension or stress and nearly every wellness professional suggests moving. Even the Harvard Heath newsletter says, “Pills aren’t the only solution (for depression). Research shows that exercise is also an effective treatment.”
I know, you are not “depressed”. But some days you don’t feel as good as others, right? Maybe some days you feel a little blue? Some days, we could all improve our mood.
Dr. Michael Craig Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, explains: “exercising starts a biological cascade of events that results in many health benefits such as protecting against heart disease and diabetes, improving sleep, and lowering blood pressure”. All these things make you feel better. He takes it one step further: “In people who are depressed, neuroscientists have noticed that the region in the brain that helps regulate mood, (the hippocampus) is smaller. Exercise supports nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, improving nerve cell connections, which helps relieve depression”.
Cool, right? Get it? Exercise stimulates growth in the brain! Even better, Dr. Miller says that for most of us, the real value is in low-intensity exercise sustained over time. Nice. You don’t have to run a marathon or a century or even work that hard. You can practice gentle yoga, walk, swim, or shoot hoop to feel better. Gentle activity sustained over time, according to the experts, spurs the release of proteins called neurotrophic (growth) factors. These cause nerve cells to grow and make new connections. The improvement in brain function makes you feel better and even makes your brain work better.
Fantastic! But what makes it so hard for some people to start and others to stop? I am one of the “hard to stop” where the challenge is slowing down. However, as Bernie Clark says, “We can only be Yang for so long before burning out. We can only be Yin for so long before stagnating. We must find balance in all things”. Wisdom and multiple injuries have helped me learn when to stop. Perhaps some of those neurotrophic proteins finally made my brain grow and understand!
But now, managing Tribal Tulum yoga studio, I see people for whom yoga and movement in general is difficult. I often wonder if they feel good all the time. Maybe they don’t experience the blues. Or it’s that resistance we talked about that comes into play. Mostly they have a hard time starting.
How to start and make movement a part of our life? Take a 21-day challenge. Tribal starts another soon! But you don’t have to join ours, although I would love it if you do. Make a commitment to yourself. Perhaps you don’t want to do yoga for 21 days straight. I get it. I love this stuff and it works for me. For you, it might be that you commit to move for 21 days, the minimum for creating a habit. Come on. It’s only 3 weeks. Commit to 3 classes of yoga a week and 4 days of movement: walking or running for 30 minutes or biking for an hour. Or even commit to 5 days of movement. Start a pattern and commit to it.
Busy? Incorporate it into your day. Get off the train one stop early and walk the extra city block. Walk to Tribal or to the yoga studio near you! Bike to work in these summer months. Walk with your kids to the park instead of driving. Invite a friend, love interest or your partner to join you and make it even more interesting! Do something for about a month and see how you feel. Write what you do each day and how it makes you feel. You can practice that in my class Mondays at 5 pm, Yoga and journaling
Then send us a message and let us know how it goes!! After 21 days, you might be like me and have a hard time to stop.