Depending on how long you’ve been practicing or who you studied with, you may not have been exposed to Reusi Dat Ton, or a yoga asana practice yet. It’s always good to have new information and to collect input from many different sources, and as such I wanted to take some time here to highlight just how important it is to have a daily movement practice.
When it comes to my own personal practice and my beliefs around how it should be done, I tend to step out of a strict, set sequence of movements (one that might be more traditional) and into a movement practice that is highly adaptable and formulated in response to the needs of my body at that time. I think we have the potential to learn the most from our movement practice when it includes variety in action. Regardless of my own personal practice and the shape it takes, we should all be moving consciously every single day. If you move through set a sequence, that’s also absolutely invaluable for a number of different reasons.
Why should we commit to a daily regimen?
- It develops discipline – discipline is such an interesting topic of discussion, and we’ll keep it to a minimum here, but it is something that we all must develop in order to make our actions far more conscious. Discipline gets us up close and personal with differentiating our wants and our needs. It’s important to understand the differences between those two things, especially in a practice such as Thai Massage, which is rooted in therapy. Also, as practitioners, if we aren’t doing our exercises, how to we expect our patients to comply with the ones we give them as homework?
- It builds devotion – Thai Massage and many other Eastern practices place great emphasis on devotion and worship. These things are really meant to help us maintain our humility and remain humble even when we are capable of unbelievably great work. If you are not into worshipping people, deities or things that are intangible to you, then a movement practice helps you build devotion to your own wellbeing and health.
- It is a practice of Metta to self – Metta, just like Ahimsa of the yogic tradition is all encompassing, not selectively applicable. We cannot and should not sacrifice our own health for that of others. It’s a noble sentiment, but diminishes our capacity to serve when we let ourselves go and ultimately it is not truly helping anyone. When we take care of ourselves from a place of need (not want…see point #1) then we can create longevity in practice and almost unlimited capacity to serve others.
- It educates us on the body – this is one particular benefit that is often overlooked in discussion of movement, and yet it has the ability to inform so many elements of our treatments and transform them into something that is therapeutic in application. When we move with awareness and attention, we tap into our sensation on a deeper level. Our sensation highlights to us our own physical (and perhaps emotional) restrictions. This is crucial for us to know – not only so that we can continue to work on our own holistic wellbeing, but also because we begin to learn from experience just how the body moves and how tension can restriction in different areas of the body can be linked and in many cases alleviated/influenced by manipulating tissues in distant areas of the body. Formal anatomical and physiological study cannot be replaced by this movement learning, but it can be accelerated and enhanced when we’re moving and paying close attention to what it feels like at every step of the way.
This is on top of the benefits of continued/improved mobility, the elevated happiness we feel and the preparedness we feel for the rest of our day.
If you haven’t developed your own personal practice yet, or if you have fallen off the bandwagon, here are a few things that can help you start or regain this critical element of being a practitioner:
- Do it first thing in the morning. There are always going to be things we have to do, always going to be a full list waiting for us, but we’re far more likely to let those excuses rule us the longer the day goes on. If we get it in before we check our emails, not only are we more likely to be able to complete a practice, we’re also going to have less mental chatter swimming around in our minds. Plus, it really sets the tone for the day.
- Start small. Commit to 20 minutes of movement every morning. Take 20 minutes out of your sleep if you have to – sleep is important, but movement is equally so (some would even suggest moreso). Even if you only get 5 minutes on one day, that’s 5 minutes more than nothing.
- Make some of it incidental – on top of those 20 minutes, try to identify times and situations in your day where you can make your movements more conscious. If you stand in a line, could you squat or calf-raise instead of resting in a lazy stance? If you stand up to make breakfast, could you balance on one leg at the same time? If you sit at a desk, could you get an exercise ball instead and move your hips around through the day? The list of opportunities to move is almost endless. Make this a compliment to the 20 minutes in the morning.
- Treat it like a meditation. If you miss a day, don’t get angry with yourself, instead just do it the next morning with fresh eyes. Make sure that you didn’t miss it because of a lack of point # 1 above (discipline)…
- Use technology to facilitate this! If you don’t know where to start, or you’re not confident to know how you should move, then use one of the numerous online yoga platforms that charge a tiny amount of money for unlimited classes with different teachers.
It’s important to keep getting back on the bandwagon, not only for our own wellbeing and education, but from the resulting improvements in the way we treat our patients. Without an understanding of how the body moves, how can we expect to provide therapeutic treatments to those who come to us? I guess we could get lucky… but I’d rather do the work and make my treatments more consistently therapeutic.