Your body is the way that you experience the world.
Although you might imagine that you can feel as others do, “putting yourself in their shoes,” ultimately, everything in your experience is driven by the information your body provides to you.
Our bodies are our mind’s proxy in the world. Through our five senses, we take in the experience of the world around us, translating it through the lens of our mind into a story that only we can write. Proprioception (provided in part by the joints of our body) tells us where we are in space. Our body may also have extensions of itself: hearing aids, contact lenses, wheelchairs. These help us navigate and explore our world with greater confidence and clarity.
When we have an injury or lose range of motion in a joint (for example, a shoulder), we are no longer able to move as freely there. The brain doesn’t receive as much information from that joint. Pain signals tell us that we should limit our range of motion, so we become more guarded and less free in our movements. In this way, a loss of confidence in our movement pattern corresponds to a loss of mental and emotional confidence. I know that when this has happened to me, I avoided activities I previously enjoyed. I experienced myself as more fragile and dependent.
Conversely, what happens when we are able to regain range of motion, or strengthen or stabilize a part of our body that we couldn’t use as well before? We feel capable, strong, more in charge of ourselves and our lives. Using the muscles of our body to lift something heavy, throw a ball, or grip an object translates to a greater sense of capacity and power. When we have more movement options– that is, if all of our joints have a full functional range for the activities that we want to do– we don’t need to be afraid of injury. We can trust in our own ability to support ourselves. And if we’re in less pain, we have less fear, more trust in ourselves, and more energy to tackle life challenges.
We should also note that there can be a similar sense of empowerment when we are provided with a tool that helps us to use our bodies better. Getting the right prescription for corrective lenses can be transformational. Employing a block in Triangle pose can change the body’s ability to feel strong, open, and steady in the shape.
Improving our body’s ability to interact with the world around us is a key component in mental health, which is why it’s such an important part of my work. I use the Functional Range System for myself and clients to safely improve and restore mobility. Mobility is a key word here– it implies not just flexibility (or passive range of motion), but the ability to be stable and strong within that range of motion.
Health and the ability to move well are privileges that we may not all enjoy in equal measure, and there are many conditions that might prevent us from being able to increase our movement capacity or strength. The focus for each individual client is always to capitalize on the body’s unique strengths, and to enhance its current capacities. I love the FRS system because each person can tailor it to their own needs, even in a group setting.
We all deserve to feel confident and capable in our bodies and minds. Working with my own body in this way has liberated me in unexpected ways.
If you’re interested in working with me, you can contact me for information on private sessions, or check out my new Kinstretch online class (which incorporates these principles) here. Equity pricing is available.
5 thoughts on “movement capacity & mental health”
This is so true! For anyone thinking about doing a private session with Laura, I strongly (pun intended) recommend it. I have been doing a weekly session and it’s been great. We do a combination of yoga, with and without the steel mace, plus some elements of Kinstretch. Laura tailors the practice to my needs each week. I feel safe since it’s just the two of us in the studio with plenty of room for proper distancing. Having the chance for in-person interaction is also very therapeutic. It has been one of the highlights of my week, and is helping me to cope in this Covid world.
Thank you, Wendy! Working with you has been such a pleasure 🙂 I’m so glad to be part of your support system!
Laura, thanks for the holistic view connecting mental and physical health. I have a relative who suffers from depression, anxiety and paranoia. Her doctor gave her an article on avoiding “stinking thinking.” In it, it says to alter what you are doing, if bad thoughts creep in her brain. We discussed her stretching, taking a walk, meditating, and altering what she is doing.
I do something daily each morning, but try to do more. It helps my psyche. It also gives me a nice soreness which tells me that I did something. Doing things helps. Exercising and breathing well does even more.
Keep on preaching your gospel. Keith
Thank you, Keith! As someone who has suffered from anxiety and depression for many years– I couldn’t agree more. I love that her doctor prescribed her a change in movement to change her thinking. One of my good friends always says, “move a muscle, change a thought” and it couldn’t be truer.
I have been loving your blogs lately– a good addition to my inbox!
Laura, many thanks on reading my posts. I appreciate your so-doing. Feel free to offer comments.
I love your friend’s saying about move a muscle, change a thought. I think many folks have had to battle issues. It sounds like you have settled on a way to manage things. For, the longest time, I used alcohol, but have been free from alcohol for thirteen years next month – a decision I needed to make.
Take care, Keith