Published in the October 17 – 30, 2018 issue of Gilroy Life

By Theresa McLaren

Theresa McLaren

Watch a child at play in movement. Observe your dog or cat as they stretch in the morning or engage in play. There doesn’t always seem to be a sense or rhythm to their movement. They don’t seem to have an agenda. They stretch, run, jump and come to abrupt stops. Adults tend to lose the ability to move in innovative ways. We are too worried about how we look and become constrained in our exercise and everyday movements.

Even if we are active, we often focus on certain activities, such as running, golfing or biking, repetitively moving the same way. We tend to lose the ability to listen to our bodies and so we get stuck in ruts of movement, which can lead to injury. When was the last time you skipped, did jumping jacks or hung from your arms? When was the last time you stood on your tippy-toes?

There are still plenty of warm days to move around outside. We are fortunate to have many days and places to get outdoors. If you hike, try some easy jogging. If you run, try some fast walking. Try walking backward. Climb some hills. There are a few climbs here in Gilroy and Morgan Hill. You can walk through a neighborhood, or take the levee trail near Christmas Hill Park. Nearby, try Coyote Lake Harvey Bear Ranch County Park off of San Martin Avenue, or Uvas Canyon County Park off of Croy Road. Move your arms while you walk, stop and do twists or lunges. Do push-ups on a bench. The idea is to move in a novel way. Let your body dictate what feels right. Explore stretching. Take deep breaths. Heck, you might even want to climb a tree.

As we head into fall and spend more time indoors, it is important to keep moving. If you sit at a desk, stand every 15 minutes to stretch: inhale your arms overhead, interlace your fingers, open your palms up to the ceiling. Then reach your hands behind your back, interlacing your fingers and opening up in the chest as your shoulder blades draw together. When you are seated, twist to the right, hanging on to the side of your chair with both hands and hold for four to five breaths, then twist to the left and hold. Do heel lifts at your desk. Stand and lean forward with your hands on the back of your chair. You don’t have to do lengthy workouts to keep your blood flowing, your fascia supple and muscles stretching.

Studies have shown exercise can improve brain function and repair damaged brain cells. Exercise has positive effects on the nervous system, encouraging the brain’s pleasure chemicals, and can reduce anxiety. You might see me stretching in the grocery store line and doing yoga in an airport terminal if I am waiting for a plane. Keep moving, keep breathing!

Theresa McLaren owns Art of Yoga in Morgan Hill. Reach her at info@artofyogamorgnahill.com.