Moving Meditations – Experience Life


– Workouts –

Three stretches to help you increase your body awareness.

Moving the body with awareness in a way that integrates the parts of us that connect our insides to the outside — including our feet, our skin, and our breath — is a way to access a sense of inward calm and to form deeper connections to everything around us, says Matthew Sanford.

“Moving meditation is learning about the intersections of the body, the mind, and the world around us,” he explains. “Presence in the body is a fundamental change agent because it teaches you where you end and the world begins.”

The following moves can help you feel grounded, lighter, and more energized. Sanford suggests progressing through all three and then going back to repeat the first two. Spend at least a few breaths in each pose before moving on to the next.

Grounding

Illustration of grounding exercise

By grounding your hands and feet, you will calm your brain, explains Sanford.

  • Sitting at a table, come onto your sit bones at the edge of your chair, with feet directly below your knees.
  • With straight arms, place your hands on the table.
  • From the center of your palms, extend out through each finger while grounding your sit bones and extending from your inner groin to your inner knee.
  • Breathe.
  • Lift your sternum to spread awareness through your whole body.
  • Breathe.

Extending

Illustration of extending exercise

With this pose, you lengthen your spine, which will give you more energy.

  • Standing, place your hands on the table.
  • Take a big step back and create a 90-degree angle with your body, your feet under your hips, knees soft.
  • Lift your kneecaps up while grounding your heels.
  • Make space in your spine: Extend through your sit bones and in the opposite direction through the top of your head.
  • Breathe. Feel your breath go into your spine. Inhale to expand. Exhale and extend through the spine with active legs.

Expanding

Illustration of expanding exercise

The expansion in this pose gives a sense of embodied empowerment. Don’t be afraid to take up space by spreading your arms and legs wide.

  • Stand with your arms wide and your legs 3½ to 4 feet apart, with feet pointed forward.
  • Pick a point in the center of your chest and extend from there through your arms, keeping your legs active. Consciously breathe across your whole diaphragm. Keep getting bigger in space.
  • Inhale to expand. On each exhalation, extend farther into the pose.
  • When finished, slowly move to standing with your legs together and your arms at your sides.

— By Amy Gunty, CES, PES 

This originally appeared as “Tuning In” in the April 2020 print issue of Experience Life.


Matthew Sanford
is a certified Iyengar yoga instructor, an author, and the founder of Mind Body Solutions, an organization that champions mind–body fitness for people of all abilities.

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