How do we feel about exercise?
I am twelve years old and playing a game of tennis with my mother. I was winning and it did not feel good to be beating my mother, so I changed my game with this discomforting thought. Losing didn’t feel great either; it felt like I wasn’t being true to myself. It may have been on this day that I decided that competitive sport was not for me.
A friend introduced me to yoga, and again I allowed myself to be affected by the competitive nature of this exercise. I would compare myself to others in the class and I felt I needed to be pushing my body to become better at the postures in order to have a stronger and more flexible body. I would have a coffee afterwards – to keep me going and to avoid feeling what my body was telling me.
Now in my late 60’s I want to enjoy the best quality of life that is possible, and that means looking after my body.
This morning I woke up looking forward to the day – a meeting with a group of amazing elders and an exercise class with Danielle Pirera. It felt supportive to have enrolled in this class, as I had not been exercising regularly for some time, and it becomes harder to motivate oneself when one is feeling tired.
Danielle explained the importance of exercise for the elderly to develop and maintain bone density, flexibility and muscle strength. She mentioned that exercising the body supported mental and emotional well-being.
So what was new?
Our instructor demonstrated how the movements were to be made gently and with our full presence, feeling the body with every movement – it was the quality of our actions, and called for us to be responsible with feeling how our body responded with each different exercise. She explained that the body responds to this connection in a powerful way.
After the on-land exercises we changed into swimmers for a water class using noodles. As I lowered myself into the pool I immediately felt my body releasing any tension left; the water was a perfect temperature, both soothing and refreshing.
I loved this class, it felt so light and playful, and it was fun to explore new ways of experiencing the body. I enjoyed how the water supported me to move gently, and how gentle exercise can be so revitalising for the body. I felt my body responding to each movement, feeling the flow of water as we all moved and glided in a harmonious rhythm.
There was no rush, no sense of time. It felt so lovely to be in a group of elders who were so open, present and delicate in their movements, all having fun.
When I arrived home I felt like I had had a good workout, but I did not feel exhausted as I had often felt in the past.
This way of exercising feels do-able and I plan to continue, building exercise into my weekly rhythm from now on, as it feels so nurturing and honouring of my body.
Bernadette C., Australia