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Recreational Sports

Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Body

November 2, 2020

Does this time of year have you feeling especially stressed, anxious, sad or overwhelmed? Learn how those emotions manifest in the body and why building your physical awareness could positively impact your mental well-being.   

The Mind/Body Connection

Though human beings possess evolved intellectual abilities, the relationship between our emotions and our bodies is primitive in nature. On a recent episode of Brené Brown’s podcast, Unlocking Us, Dr. Emily Nagoski explains how we physically process uncomfortable emotions and why movement is a necessary step in releasing them from the body. Comparing how humans instinctually react to stress to that of gazelle escaping a predator in the wild, Dr. Nagoski describes how the first thing to happen when a gazelle finds safety is their entire body starts to uncontrollably shake. This shaking allows all of the motor patterns that were automatically activated by the nervous system, and then suddenly stopped once safe, to complete their cycle and release from the body.

Dr. Nagoski refers to this bodily phenomenon as “completing the stress cycle”. Humans are exposed to similar feelings of stress, but often multiple times a day and sometimes unconsciously. The stress cycle for humans is often ignored or interrupted, leaving stress in the body to manifest as muscle tightness, headaches, sickness or fatigue. Because “your body speaks body language”, finding a way to physically signal to your body that you are okay is imperative to maintaining your overall health and well-being. This could be taking a deep breath, working out, dancing or any other form of movement. “Those behaviors are what say to your body, ‘You have escaped this stressful situation and your body is now a safe place for you to be.’ It is the behavior, it’s not the change in your environment that triggers the physiological change.”

Experiencing stress is a normal and necessary part of the human experience. Getting stuck in the “stress cycle” is what negatively impacts an individual’s well-being. Continue reading to discover strategies for how you can improve your mind/body connection to assist in moving through the stress cycle.

Start with the Breath

Bringing awareness to your breath is a simple way to begin connecting with how you are feeling in body and mind. Led by our Rec Sports Yoga Instructors, the recordings below will guide you through different techniques for practicing mindful breathing.

Alternate Nostril Breathing with Leah S. (video)

Alternate Nostril Breathing with Leah S. (audio only)

4-7-8 Breathing with Leah S. (video)

4-7-8 Breathing with Leah S. (audio only)

Three Part Breath with Philip B. (video)

Building Body Awareness

While any physical activity can act as an emotional release, the practice of yoga specifically focuses on the connection between your mind, breath and body. Yoga teaches you how to tune into your body’s needs and individualize your practice regardless of flexibility, body type or experience. Whether you are in the mood for slow, gentle movement or something quicker and sweatier, we have a variety of options available.  

Restorative Yoga Pose Breakdown (9-min)

Mind Release Yoga Flow with Leah S. (30-min)

Deep Stretch Yin Yoga with Philip B. (75-min)

GF LIVE! Yoga for Stress Relief with Christina A. (45-min, Tuesday @ 7:30 p.m.) 

GF LIVE! Yoga for Stress Relief with Morgan N. (45-min, Friday @ 4 p.m.)

 

Focusing on your physical well-being is not a one-size-fits-all process. For additional guidance or questions on how you can best continue your journey, contact us at fitness@osu.edu.