Contribution by Guest Blogger Karen Harvey.
With all of the various methods and do’s & don’ts within the physical fitness industry, how do you know what is right for you? And what role do your own instincts and inspiration play in that?
Personally, I have always loved striving to be healthy and take care of my body. I like how it makes me feel good, look good and full of energy. It’s easy to become addicted to the constant progression of exercise with painful soreness and then improved results. As a professional dancer, I’ve trained my body in so many various ways over the course of more than 22 years including ballet, gymnastics, modern dance, karate, swimming, yoga, pilates, strength & cardio training and much more. Each method I studied provided a particular technique for changing the body in one way or another… each one equally addicting and satisfying.
- Strength Training is probably the most widely popular form of modern “exercise” and physical conditioning. A basic weight lifting routine is excellent for an untrained body or someone who has never played sports. It utilizes all of the muscles and joints in a systemized, scientific and mostly safe manner. It’s also crucial for anyone participating in a sport or activity that requires balanced muscular strength, contributing to more power and helping to prevent injuries. Not to mention the popularity of developing a physically “fit” looking body with toned musculature and results that you can clearly measure.
- Another super popular form is Yoga. Yoga originally comes from a long and highly varied series of Indian traditions that are based not in physical fitness but in spiritual awakening. The physical practice of yoga is one of the best methods available for healing the body from injury, restoring energy and developing a strong and supple physique. It’s highly enjoyable and and can be incredibly magical. When you step onto a yoga mat you are taking a step toward yourself, toward your own “awakening” no matter how purely physical or spiritual your practice becomes. This doesn’t mean that when you begin the process of turning inward you’ll always stay on your mat, but Yoga is a means to an end that will hopefully guide you off of your mat and fully into yourself.
- Ballet provides an incredible structure for developing a skillful and articulate body with an uplifted quality and wonderful posture. It lengthens and tones the muscles and if you like classical music there’s nothing more satisfying than taking daily ballet class or a ballet barre. It can be presentational, outwardly expressive and meticulous. There are many great ballet teachers who make sure that students stay fully present in their body and relaxed in their joints, while moving through space with a lot of power and virtuosity.
Each physical training method or technique offers something unique and powerful to the development of the human body and is an expression of the human soul. There is no “right” way. This is a wonderful thing, you get to choose what works for you at any given time. The body is much like a playground where one training technique is like playing on a slide, another is like the monkey bars and so on. You might have your favorite or you might want to play on them all!
~~> Your own intuition is intelligent. It’s inherently connected to your life, your body, your mind and your soul. It’s connected to what brings you pleasure and most importantly it’s connected to you, just as you are. Often we instinctually know what’s best for us or ways of healing our body, simply by becoming more in-tuned with our body.
- Dance and movement classes that have an element of improvisation are especially beneficial for tuning into your own instincts, inspirations and body awareness in a focused and creative way as well as developing a pleasurable relationship to your body and connection to the present moment. When you access and connect to your own intuition through movement, you also become more connected and clear in your mind & heart. It’s about moving into a lighthearted way of being free to explore. Then no matter what you choose to do becomes a form of loving yourself! It all becomes a dance!