Chia Life

Seven ways to change your life: Part 6 – Movement

Ever noticed how when you eat or drink a favourite food or tipple, how your mood changes? Sometimes immediately or within hours.  You may notice (often in hindsight) that your outlook narrows and your perspective becomes a little less rosy.  Now this:  have you noticed, when you exercise or perhaps, stretch, dance or walk, how your body feels? Have you noticed how a positive mood and general sense of well-being arise?  Of course you have! This is because:

Your body affects your mind and your mind affects your body.

300 years ago, the medical world regarded the body and mind as a single entity.  The 17th century saw the Western world define mind and body two as completely separate entities (never the two shall meet).

Hop skip and a jump to the 20th century and research demonstrates the inescapable and complex links between body and mind.   The evidence is clear:  your body affects your mind and your mind affects your body.

If we want to lift our moods, change our behaviours or slip on those rose-tinted lenses, then now is the time to approach our health and well-being from both perspectives. Mind and body.

Here in the sixth of our seven practices that can be your catalyst to living your best life, to creating the small shifts and big changes you need.  Once again, an important caveat.  These practices are called that, because they need to be practiced, repeatedly. Remember:  what you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while. (Author:  Gretchen Rubin – The Happiness Project)


This week we introduce our sixth practice,  Movement – one that plays an integral role in both, our behaviours, and our thinking.  So here it is, let’s talk about movement as it is one of the most fundamental components to creating change in our lives.

“[The body is] a marvelous machine, a chemical laboratory, a powerhouse.  Every movement, voluntary or involuntary, is full of secrets and marvels.”

Theodor Herzl


This one’s no surprise.  Movement is one of the most basic functions of the human body.   When we think of movement, we often think of sports, going to the gym, or cardio exercise like running or dancing.  Whilst these are valid for many people, the reality is that movement is so much more than just these.  Movement could mean playing with your children, cleaning the house, gardening, dancing, cooking, dancing while you cook, caring for a loved one (we know how intense this too can be).

The type of movement, that we like to work with as part of one’s journey of personal growth and self-discovery, is even simpler, more gentle, and often, transformational.  It’s the type of movement we advocate for first thing in the morning:  awakening your body (and mind) through gentle yogic stretching. Why transformational you may ask?  This is because this type of stretching usually engages all parts of us, our mind, our body, and our heart and soul.  It characterises the direct translation of the word ‘Yoga’ which means to yoke – to bring together into the present moment, our whole selves.  In these moments of being one with our body, all else falls away – if only, for that moment. A truly magical experience.

Hmmm, a bit deep – if you’ve been there, you’ll know. If not, then we’re excited for you to experience this.

Early morning yogic or gentle stretching feels good throughout your entire body, this is because during the night you reach REM (rapid eye-movement), the stage of your night’s sleep where your muscles literally become paralyzed – it’s called atonia and explains many of the aches and pains we feel when we wake up in the mornings.    When awakening, and reactivating your muscles the following occurs:

  • Energy-stimulating endorphins are released
  • With movement comes deep breathing inviting oxygen to flow to parts of your body (imagine little puddles of carbon dioxide residing in the nooks and crannies of your body…)
  • As the blood flows oxygen reaches these areas effectively displacing carbon dioxide which you release with every out-breath.
  • On each exhale you may begin to feel exhilaration or light-headedness.
  • This is a combination of the oxygen and nutrients at work along, increasing your energy levels.
  • A sense of optimism or lightness is experienced.

If you’ve not done this before, take a moment to imagine beginning each day with a sense of optimism and lightness and then you will know why we encourage this type of movement upon awakening.

But there’s more.  A morning stretching routine not only boosts your energy levels, it helps release anxiety and tension which, if you suffer from anxiety or depression, you’ll know, is often more pronounced in the mornings.

How to do this:

Access reputable resources that serve your body type, your personality and level of flexibility and fitness or better still, get yourself a personal trainer to show you what to do. You could also join our morning sessions, Mondays to Thursdays (more on this on our website or make your way to some pilates or yoga classes.

When stretching,  we encourage you to hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds to allow your muscles the time that they need to adequately stretch. If you notice an area that’s really holding onto tension, hold the position longer, breathe into it and imagine on each exhale that you’re able to release that tension with your breath.  Tara Brach, author, psychologist and meditation teacher,  encourages her students to, when they find tension in their bodies, on the exhale to say softly whisper:  letting go, letting go….

And so your day has begun.  There are many other forms of movement or physical activity – gentle yogic stretching does not replace your cardio workout, rather consider it is a self-care, body release, endorphin-compelling, healthy way to start your day. After 10 – 30 minutes of this stretching, you’re ready to move on to other exercises like walking, running, cold water swimming, yoga, nature walks, surfing – whatever your choice of exercise is. We suggest you find your ‘thing’ and do what Nike says you should do…..

The Friends of Movement:  Breath, Centering, walking, nature, music.

Benefits of Movement:  Improves circulation, and removes tension and stress.  Offers a sharper, more focused mind, weight loss and maintenance, mood enhancer (endorphins), better sleep, flexibility, and healthy muscles, and bones. (This is pretty much a never-ending list!)