What is a Movement Snack?

Feeling a bit low? Take a movement snack.

What in the world is a movement snack?

And is it as good as chocolate?

I have been reading a lot these days about movement "snacks" -  little additions of movement to your day, as a way to improve fitness without going to the gym. Like taking the stairs instead of the lift. Or having a quick walk around the block. Or a little handstand against the wall.

These are all great ideas. They are great for fitness. But I'll give you some more ideas too, that can be beneficial in other ways.

One of the reasons I think a lot of people practice yoga is because of the state change that it creates.

You were stressed out. You went to yoga. You felt better. That is a change of state. You worked the body, it effected the nervous system, and in the end you felt different than before. Observations of this nature have been written by people like Bo Forbes, who integrates yoga and clinical psychology - that having clients take a restorative pose for a few minutes at the beginning of a session facilitates more self-reflective insights than just talk therapy. Kundalini kriyas are described in language related to these state changes: "kriya to release inner anger" etc. Or that a kind of breath creates a kind of change. At the root, this is what yoga is doing. Creating an input in the body that changes the overall state.

So movement (or yoga) snacks can do exactly this. They can help us shift our state of being when we are stuck in something that isn't helpful.

I'll tell you a secret. This same effect is one of the reasons I think people smoke. That smokers have an excuse, every so often, to change their scenery, go outside, take a few (polluted) breaths (Ok, yes, nicotine is a powerful drug that increases arousal and dopamine in the brain). But we all should do that. Take a break. Go outside. Take a breath. And stimulate some good feelings in the body!!

Voila! a movement or yoga snack

So, um, I am not advocating smoking. Not at all. I think when you learn to observe yourself more, you can notice when you need a little uplift, or downshift in your energy. And with some little tools, you can change your state pretty quickly, even stimulating dopamine in the brain, without drugs.
Obviously, some situations you can't just shift with a moment of embodiment (or a yoga practice). But moments of movement do have a training effect. You get better at what you practice. And if you practice finding a calmer or clearer state, you will find it more and more easily over time.

Some Movement Snack Ideas

  • Tap, brush and rub your arms, shoulders and chest (face and head too if you like) . Do one side first, and then the other. This physical contact stimulates your sensory nerves in different ways, which will improve proprioception, or overall body awareness. This will effect how your body organises itself, freeing up tensions, and making you feel lovely and tingly!
  • Climb a rope to the ceiling. Reach your arms up and then imagine you are climbing. You can play with different qualities - pulling the arms down, pushing the ceiling away, moving slowly or dropping the arms.
  • Side bends and spinal flexes. If you coordinate breath with side bends, you can get a stretch of your diaphragm, which can free up your breath. Add to that some spinal movements (wiggles, ripples or circles) and you can reenergise your body in a few moments.
  • Lift and lower your chest a few times (sitting or standing backbend). Put one hand on your chest, and then take the other down your belly towards your pubic bone. If you are standing you can have your hand on your pubic bone, if sitting, generally near there (near the top of your trousers) is fine. As you breathe in lift the chest, like you are pulling the top hand away from the other. On breath out, settle back to straight. (You don't have to use your hands on the body for this, but it does help with awareness, embodiment, and it can feel so delicious.

Here’s another idea

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