Don’t skip your post-session walks just because the air outside is smoky or hot. Tap into your adaptability and get creative by finding ways to walk indoors.
You just invested in a bodywork session, and you know walking is the best way to encourage any shifts that occurred to settle into your system and stick. On the other hand, the poor air quality has you planning to stay inside at your desk or in your comfy chair instead. Personally, I find it all-too-easy to get stuck in this either/or mindset, where the only options seem to be (1) exposing myself to unsafe conditions to “do what I’m supposed to” or (2) staying inside in my chair. The goal of this post is to give you more options so you can move past getting stuck between two bad options and move your body. Use these ideas as a starting point and get creative. Try the suggestions here as written, combine the ideas in your own way, or think up other ways to sense the floor under your feet and generate the one-step-in-front-of-the-other, hip-to-shoulder movements of walking without leaving your living room.
WALK BACKWARDS – 2 minutes
You’ve done it in the office. You can do it at home, too. After receiving a great Bowenwork session this week, I woke up the next morning noticing a lot of processing still happening. There was a funny little sensation on the bottom of my foot right in front of my heel, my deep abdominal scar was itchy, and my right hip was aching a bit. I set my timer for 2 minutes and started walking backwards, back and forth across the kitchen floor. I can’t tell you why it works, but it does. After 2 minutes of walking backwards, I started walking forwards a few paces to check in. Amazingly the intensity of the sensations had eased. I walked backwards at least once more that day and several times in the days following. It only takes 2 minutes. Give it a try. There is no time limit. If you like it, keep going when the 2 minutes are up.
I’ve heard from you and colleagues that walking backwards helps with processing and decreases discomfort after a session. A colleague of mine recently told me that a client of hers with 15 years of experience with Bowenwork recently had a surprisingly intense session and unexpectedly strong body sensations in the days following. At her therapist’s advice, the client walked backwards regularly. She reported feeling more comfortable after the practice. In fact, she twice pushed back her next appointment because the session was so effective and her body held the change so well. We don’t know if that was because of the backwards walking, but the client reported feeling empowered and calmed by this movement at home.
Safety while walking backwards: When walking backwards, always make sure you have a clear unobstructed path before beginning. This will help you relax and enjoy it without always looking over your shoulder. When you sense you’re getting close to the wall, hold a gentle palm back so that it can be the first thing to touch the wall. This way you can avoid bumping your heels or tripping against the wall or furniture.
During the first 24 hours after your session, walking backwards and/or walking forwards through your house will be the most beneficial for your body. For other days, try a warm up for walking.
WARM UP: LOOSER ARMS FOR WALKING – 2 minutes
Many of us move through our days and exercise sessions unconsciously carrying tension in our shoulders, arms and hands. Even if you were aware of it, you might wonder why it matters. We walk with our legs, not our arms, right?? Actually, we walk with everything. The full body movement of walking is one of the things that makes it an ideal form of exercise and a great way to balance and integrate the pieces and parts of our body into one. Your system, your body, is globally responsive. When one thing moves (no matter how large or small that one thing is), everything moves. Try it! See below for some ideas.
When our arms and shoulders relax and move freely, the movement from our waist is more likely to transmit motion from the center of our body to our hips, feet and shoulders so we can get the most out of walking. I first did a variation of this warm-up in a yoga class, and can still remember the warmth I experienced from my hands heavily flopping against my low back. Later, I encountered the movement again as a warm up for Tai Chi. The Tai Chi practice adds layers of experience and body sense/knowledge to the movement that are not presented here.
Slowing down and trying different forms of walking should not be written off as second best. Small moments of movement can make a huge difference. On busy days at the home office, using these ideas can help you get out of giving up on walking altogether. Same for days when wildfire smoke is drifting in from all directions.
Embrace your body as a self-adapting, self-healing system. Let small inputs reverberate through your system and take a moment to notice.
If you know from experience that rotation in your center sets off a pain cycle in your body, use your best judgement. Always start any new movement slowly and gently (that means just a little bit of motion). If it feels good, you can try slowly increasing your movement. Only do what feels good in your body. Find the speed and range of movement that works for you and hang out there for a bit. You will get the most benefit from this warm up if it feels good.
A list of ideas for using this warm-up:
- Walk backwards for 2 minutes. Do this warm up. Then walk backwards again. Is anything different? What do you notice.
- Walk forwards for 1 minute. Pay attention to your body: What’s moving? What’s not moving? Now, do the warm-up and walk again (2-4 minutes this time). Check in again: What’s moving? What’s not moving?
- Do this warm up and immediately go for a walk–either outside or in your living room. Enjoy your walk! Let the rotation at your waist loosely swing your arms and legs into fluid motion. If you’re inside, move your head to look out windows and look at things both near and far. If you’re outside, look around at the trees, let your head and eyes follow the movement of bugs and bunnies, and gaze up at the sky.