These six body movements are designed to increase your mind-body awareness and help you build body self confidence.
1. Rhythmic exercise moves: Dancing
Our bodies want and need to move and play to be fully alive. Rhythm sets up possibilities for release, expansion, joy. Put on any music that has ever inspired you to dance, such as songs by Gloria Estefan, Brian Setzer, or even a classical piece. Begin body movements in this pattern:
- Isolate a body part, then move the rest of your body along with it.
- First move your head: nodding, turning it from side to side and doing gentle neck rolls, for example.
- Be aware of how the rest of your body wants to move as you do this, then let it move along with your head.
- Move on to your shoulders, back, hips, legs and feet.
- As you move each body part, say, out loud (or silently) an appreciation or positive affirmation of it, such as "My arms move so fluidly" or "My legs are strong."
- Each time you do Rhythms, put on a different piece of music and explore how your body feels.
2. Graceful exercise moves: Swaying
Grace comes from refined body movements, moving from the inside out as smaller, more-internal muscles are recruited to help move larger, more-surface ones. Grace is unconscious, flowing, harmonious, and well coordinated. So, build your self confidence as you sway:
- Stand with your feet a bit more than hip-width apart, arms by your sides.
- Sway your torso from side to side, keeping your legs and hips still at first.
- Let your arms follow your torso, keeping your bodyweight balanced over your feet.
- Sway bigger and bigger, shifting weight from foot to foot until you're moving your whole body.
- Naturally breathe through your nose.
- As your movements get larger, notice how your breathing changes.
Next, enjoy how your body feels as you try these exercise moves: breathing in nature and grand plies.
[header = More self confidence building exercise moves: breathing in nature and more.]
Continue to build self confidence as you incorporate exercise moves that build endurance and a sense of balance.
3. Endurance exercise moves: Breathe in nature
Endurance activities may help bring on the flow state -- high levels of endorphins which help create a feel-good mood. Your senses can become more acute as you decrease man-made noise. Go out in nature to hear the sounds of the natural world. Stay active for at least 30 minutes doing any outdoor activity that brings you in touch with nature. For example, you could walk, hike, run, mountain bike or in-line skate. Try to move at an intensity of at least a level 5 on a scale of 1-10, yet able to maintain even, deep breathing throughout your workout. Stay mindful of your surroundings as your energy level rises and your body movements become second nature.
4. Balancing exercise moves: Grand plies
Balance exists between our bodies and Earth's gravity. When standing, a balanced body is symmetrically organized around a vertical axis from head to feet. A balanced body, topped by a balanced mind, moves with ease and resilience, realigning itself with outside forces.
Stand with feet slightly more than hip-width apart, feet and knees turned out, abdominals contracted, pelvis tucked under; arms hang by your sides. Inhale, then bend your knees into a plie, keeping knees over feet and back straight. Exhale and lift heels with knees still bent. Inhale and, heels still up, straighten legs, then exhale, lowering heels to starting position. Do this 4-6 times, then do the same move, reversing the order. As you're doing these body movements, feel that your feet are "grounded to the earth, head in the clouds."
Time to ramp up your exercise moves to build power and strength for increased self confidence!
[header = Final two exercise moves build self confidence along with power and strength.]
These final two exercise moves will build strength and power along with self confidence.
5. Power exercise moves: Broad jump
The word power comes from the Latin root potere, meaning "to be able or potent." Ability is linked to practice and then mastery. What at first feels awkward will soon feel comfortable with practice, using these body movements:
- Inhale through the nose as deeply as possible, feeling your lungs expand with air.
- Bend your knees as if to squat, heels down, keeping back straight and contracting your abs.
- With your arms bent, elbows close to your sides, exhale forcefully through your mouth and jump forward as far as possible, tucking your feet up under you as you explode up and forward.
- Land with heels first, knees bent.
- Finish in a standing position.
- Experiment doing 3-4 in a row, increasing the distance of the jump as you get better.
6. Strength exercise moves: Plank to side plank
Being strong means feeling capable and expanding your comfort zone, physically and emotionally. Your lower-body muscles are usually your strongest because they support your body weight. In fact, many women can't hold up their own body weight with their arms. These body movements use the core muscles of your abdomen and back to help support your body weight:
- Start on hands and knees, knees under hips, wrists under shoulders, arms straight (not locked).
- Squeeze shoulder blades down and away from your ears; tighten abs, making a straight line from head to hips.
- Inhale; straighten a leg at a time behind you, keeping hips still and tucking toes under to Plank pose.
- Exhale through your mouth and roll your body weight onto your left foot and hand; rest right foot on left.
- Keeping left arm straight, raise right arm, in line with shoulders, so arms make a "T."
- Keep abs tight, pelvis stable.
- Inhale; return to Plank pose.
- Exhale, and repeat on the other side. Hold each position for two full breaths.
- To challenge yourself, repeat one more time.