When people have peace in themselves, then there can be peace in the world. This is our practice every day. One way people can develop peace in themselves is by just sitting quietly and breathing.
This is called meditation. With each in-breath, we can notice we are breathing in. With each out-breath, we can notice we are breathing out. When we breathe like this, our body and our mind come together. And when our body and our mind are together, we are capable of living life more fully. We are able to enjoy what is going on in and around us in each moment.
Sitting together, breathing together, we can feel very peaceful and happy. But sometimes we need to stop sitting in one place and start to move around!
The practice of the Mindful Movements is to bring awareness and enjoyment into our bodies and into the movements we make with our bodies. Mindful Movements are very simple but very deep. They have been taught and practiced in Plum Village for over two decades.
The exercises are easy to do at home, by yourself, or with others. You can do them inside or outside in the park. You can do them every day or just once in a while. Do each movement four times before moving on to the next one. Have fun!
Mindful Movement #1
Begin with your feet slightly apart, arms at your sides. Breathing in, keep your elbows straight as you lift your arms in front of you until they’re shoulder level, horizontal to the ground. Breathing out, bring your arms down again to your sides.
Repeat the movement three more times.
Mindful Movement #2
Begin with your arms at your sides. Breathing in, lift your arms in front of you. In one continuous movement, bring them all the way up, stretching them above your head. Touch the sky! This movement can be done with your palms either facing inward toward each other, or facing forward as you reach up. Breathing out, bring your arms slowly down again to your sides.
Mindful Movement #3
Breathing in, lift your arms out to the side, palms up, until your arms are shoulder level, parallel to the ground. Breathing out, touch your shoulders with your fingertips, keeping your upper arms horizontal. Breathing in, open your arms, extending them until they’re stretched out to a horizontal position again. Breathing out, bend your elbows, bringing your fingertips back to your shoulders.
When you breathe in, you are like a flower opening to the warm sun. Breathing out, the flower closes. From this position with your fingertips on your shoulders, do the movement three more times. Then lower your arms back down to your sides.
Mindful Movement #4
In this exercise, you make a large circle with your arms. Breathing in, bring your arms straight down in front of you, centered between your hips, palms together. Raise your arms up and separate your hands so your arms can stretch up over your head. Breathing out, continue the circle, arms circling back, until your fingers point toward the ground.
Breathing in, lift your arms back and reverse the circle. Breathe out as you bring your palms together and your arms come down in front of you. Repeat three more times.
Mindful Movement #5
Start by putting your hands on your waist. As you do this exercise, keep your legs straight but not locked, and your head centered over your body.
Breathing in, bend forward at the waist and begin to make a circle with your upper body. When you’re halfway through the circle, your upper body leaning back, breathe out and complete the circle, ending with your head in front of you while you’re still bent at the waist. On your next in-breath, begin a circle in the opposite direction. On your out-breath, complete the circle.
Repeat the series of movements three more times.
Mindful Movement #6
This exercise is called The Frog. Begin with your hands on your waist, heels together, feet turned out to form a V, so that they make a 90° angle. Breathing in, rise up on your toes. Breathing out, stay on your toes, keep your back straight, and bend your knees. Keeping your upper body centered, go down as low as you can, maintaining your balance.
Breathing in, straighten your knees and come all the way up while still standing on your toes. From this position, repeat the movement three more times, remembering to breathe slowly and deeply.
Mindful Movement #7
In this exercise, you touch the sky and the earth. Your feet are hip-width apart. Breathing in, bring your arms up above your head, palms forward.
Stretch all the way up, and look up as you touch the sky. Breathing out, bend at the waist as you bring your arms down to touch the earth. Release your neck. From this position, breathe in, and keep your back straight as you come all the way back up and touch the sky.
Touch the earth and sky three more times.
Mindful Movement #8
Start with your feet together and your hands on your waist. Begin by putting all your weight on to your left foot. Breathing in, lift your right thigh as you bend your knee and keep your toes pointed toward the ground. Breathing out, stretch your right leg out in front of you, keeping your toes pointed. Breathing in, bend your knee and bring your foot back toward your body.
Breathing out, put your right foot back on the ground. Next put all your weight on to your right foot and do the movement with the other leg. Repeat the series of movements three more times.
Mindful Movement #9
In this exercise, you make a circle with your leg. Begin with your feet together and your hands on your waist. Put your weight on your left foot and, breathing in, lift your right leg straight out in
front of you and circle it to the side. Breathing out, circle it to the back and bring it down behind you, allowing your toes to touch the ground.
Breathing in, lift your leg up behind you and circle it around to the side. Breathing out, continue the circle to the front, then lower your leg and put your foot on the ground, allowing your weight to again be on both feet. Now do the exercise with the other leg.
Repeat the series of movements three more times.
Mindful Movement #10
This exercise is done in a lunge position. Begin standing with feet together. Keeping your left foot where it is, move your right foot out so your feet are wider than shoulder-width apart and turn your right foot out 90°. Keeping your weight on both feet, your body will naturally turn slightly toward the right foot to find a comfortable position angled between your two feet. Put your left hand on your waist and your right arm at your side.
Breathing in, bend your right knee, bringing your weight over your right foot as you lift your right arm with the palm of your hand facing outward in front of you, and stretch it to the sky! Breathe out as you straighten your knee and bring your right arm back to your side. Repeat the movement three more times.
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