When I’m writing, I’m like a dog with a bone, except I don’t drag it around--it drags me—straight to my office chair where I sit for hours. And days. Sometimes weeks. I find it difficult to switch gears and move my body. I want to stretch or dance or practice yoga, but I don’t want to take time away from my desk. Getting to my Rising Lotus Yoga or Body Freedom movement class seems impossible. I don’t want to change my clothes, drive anywhere, or talk to anybody. I just want to write.
The other day, after not having stretched my body over the course of a long, busy week, I noticed my dog, Katie, sprawled on the back deck. I walked outside, stood beside her, closed my eyes, raised my arms and faced the sun. Slowly, I started moving, “listening” to the sun on my skin, allowing its warmth to direct my movement. I rolled my head. My neck hurt. I hadn’t noticed before. I think of my neck as a bridge between my body and head, and since there hadn’t been any two-way traffic lately, the road had shut down.
I worked with the stiffness in my neck, allowed myself to receive whatever movement came. For a while I stood circling my head slowly, tilting into the pain. Can you bring some love to this kink? I asked myself. This thought loosened it and the pain subsided. What else needs attention? I scanned my body.
Bending forward at the waist relieved my lower back. Hunched forward like an ape, I swung my arms and torso while taking large, lumbering steps. Katie watched. She was used to such sights, but I wonder how many humans she’s seen move this way. I let out a few deep “Ha” sounds, vigorously shook my head and hands, and then slowly rolled up my spine stacking one vertebrate upon another, imagining space between the bones. I felt taller, relaxed, energized.
If you’re an all-or-nothing-type-person like me, you can relate to how easy it can be to ignore your body—especially when life gets busy. Is there something small you can do for your body today? Something that’ll take five or ten minutes? Does your lower back ache? How about lying on the floor with your feet propped against a wall? Try stretching your arms over your head, then folding your knees against your chest. Or for those who practice yoga, how about hunkering down into child’s pose for five minutes and gently wagging your butt from side-to-side? I like hugging a pillow or bolster in this position, placing one ear down for a few minutes and then turning my head to the other side, which is a great neck stretch.
Your five-minute body break might include jumping, running up and down stairs, or shaking your torso and limbs to get energy moving. Or you can simply allow ordinary movements to grow into larger ones. Sometimes, while scrubbing a pot in the sink, I’ll let the movement expand in my body and before I know it, I’m shimmying my hips like a belly dancer—another great low back loosener!
What type of five-minute body breaks work for you? I’d love to hear about them!
Get 80+ writing prompts from my new book to ignite your creativity, gain clarity, and reach your personal and professional goals!