The need for movement in your life for overall health is something you probably already know you should be incorporating. Exercise can energize your body, make you feel strong, and revamp your mood. Have you connected the dots yet? Yes, fitness is not only beneficial to your physique but also for your mind.
During the month of Mental Health Awareness remembering to care for your mind and body equally should be an ongoing practice. Below are three exercises that allow you to move your body in so many different ways while reaping all the mental benefits.
Several studies have shown the reduction of stress and anxiety by incorporating a yoga practice into your routine. Cristi Christensen, Global Embodiment Coach and Author of the upcoming book, Chakra Rituals: Awakening the Wild Woman Within breaks down how instrumental yoga can be in your mental health journey.
“Yoga in its essence is about connection. What could be more beneficial for one's mental well-being than having a connection? We long to be connected with ourselves, with friends, family, our communities, and with something larger than ourselves. Yoga comes from the root word yuj, which means to yoke, harness, to unite together. Connection to the body and breath through conscious movement. The practice not only connects us to our physical form, strengthens the body and mind, but it also connects us to our hearts. As our hearts open we become more compassionate and kind to ourselves and to others. Through the practice of yoga and deep breathing, you can learn to love your body, and radically accept yourself." says, Cristi
The incorporation of deep breaths helps to heal the physical body, mind, and emotional bodies. Christensen shares that emotional disturbances and repressed emotions can lead to disruption in the mind as well as the physical body. The physical practice of yoga helps to free up these places so energy can move in a free-flowing way again. This flow brings vitality, clarity of mind, vision, creativity, hope, and emotional range.
If you are feeling stressed or need a little extra TLC might be worth giving yoga a try.
Whether you consider yourself a good dancer or not, dance is such a beautiful way to express joy, navigate movement and challenge yourself. Other benefits include:
- Boost of confidence
- Improved cognitive ability
- Helps with anxiety and depression
- Improved ability to express yourself and develop stronger social skills
Irina Peschan the Founder of Afro-Fusion Burn and Afro-Fusion Burn KIDS! Believes dance is about community. Being a part of a supportive group can offer a considerable amount of emotional support.
“Dance fitness for heart health or cardio? It is so much more than that! Dance fitness is about community, it’s about the connection - moving in unison, coming together. Even the pandemic couldn't change that, the sense of connection is still there, including online. Dance fitness gives us that magic mix of physical fitness and emotional relationships that is key to our well-being. It is the single biggest predictor of our mental health. So if you want to live a long, healthy, joy-filled life, dance fitness is it, baby!” says Peschan
Think of doing a dance party with the family or all by yourself. No matter what you choose, the freedom of the movement can help create a deeper emotional connection within.
There is something about a boxing workout that can make anyone feel empowered and motivated. Floyd Mayweather always says, ‘when you look good, you feel good.’ Boxing truly is the overall package when it comes to a well-rounded approach to wellness. Reid Silverman Director of Mayweather Boxing reveals how including boxing can support your mental health.
“Boxing is an amazing way to let off steam and aggression while feeling strong and empowered. While the endorphins and side effects of exercise generally are great tools to support your mental health, boxing gives you the added benefit of actually punching something. Boxing allows you to envision all of your challenges and opponents in life as the bag and release your stress in a positive way that is otherwise not possible.”
Silverman goes on to say that the strong mental focus that is applied to boxing helps to support your mental health in profound ways. To be a true boxer (professionally or unprofessionally) you have to acquire a certain level of mental skill that requires complete focus. With this focus, boxers can shut off outside distractions and concerns while becoming fully present. “A big component of mental health is learning to train and control the mind, which boxing is incredibly effective at” Reid explains.
There is something for everyone, whatever your choice of movement is keeping in mind not only the physical benefits but the mental benefits too will allow you to tap into some hidden benefits you might have not recognized before.