By Lildonia Lawrence. Photography by Deun Ivory.
Our bodies are made to move, and our forms relish motion. Think of how deliciously luxurious a lazy morning stretch feels or the euphoria that comes after a good workout. Moving invigorates our bodies and soothes our souls. The more we move the better.
I’ve enjoyed dancing since childhood, and as an adult, I progressed into the fitness and yoga world, which is now where I spend much of my time. To be in motion is my most comfortable state and it has healed me time over. In my late teens, I went through an intense period of grief and the world felt like a scary place. I gave up my dance classes and let my gym membership lapse. My mind and body were in a quandary and I couldn’t see a way out.
One day, I came across a leaflet for a belly dancing course and on a whim, decided to sign up. From that very first session, my mindset began to change. With every shimmy, the hardened particles of sorrow that had been stored in my body began to shift, allowing me to feel again. Each week, I moved a bit more and my pain was able to expand, release and eventually disperse.
Grief is multidimensional, and I’m by no means saying I no longer grieved after that day, but the movement allowed my body to process a loss that my mind could not. Movement gave me back my joy and now, it is something I return to regularly to bring pleasure and bliss into my daily life.
Our mind, body and spirit are so intimately linked that everything we experience is stored within us. Oftentimes, aches, pains and illnesses that seemingly come out of nowhere have an emotional, psychological or spiritual root, and coming back to our body can induce great healing.
Here are some ways you can imbue movement for joy into your daily life:
Walking is underrated, but has so many spiritual and emotional benefits. Even a 10-minute daily phone-free walk is a great step towards cultivating joy and connection. Walking is the perfect time for peaceful reflection and a great opportunity to practice mindfulness. I like to absorb the seasons as I stride, focusing on the color of the leaves in fall and the sparkling branches in winter. I always feel a million dollars afterwards and am filled with awe.
I love to dance! There’s something so joyous about feeling the rhythm of a pulsating beat. What I love about dance is that there are so many styles, each one evoking a different mood. For connecting with your feminine essence, you’ve got belly dance. For warrior spirit, there’s traditional African. If connecting with your sensuality is where it’s at, you can pick up a Latin class. Dance is a way to ground yourself to the earth through beat and to rise through prayer in motion. Dance helps us feel at home in our skin and is a wonderful way of enriching our bodies with joy.
Some would describe these as the most powerful movement forms of all. Qi Gong, Tai Chi and Yoga have been around for centuries and everyone who practices them on a long-term basis can attest to the joy that they create. Mind-Body practices are powerful because they work on both a somatic and energetic level; boosting our physical strength whilst also revitalizing our energy flow. Mind-Body movement can foster deep emotional release, making space for happiness. My yoga practice gives me so much joy and I always leave my mat feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and restored.
There’s something about being immersed in water that feels so good. Swimming is a powerful antidepressant. Every time we dive deep, we receive a release of endorphins and neurotransmitters which boost our mood, sleep and sexual desire — all of which are joyful in their own right! If you can get to a natural water source, even better. Who doesn’t feel happy when listening to sea waves lapping in the distance or a babbling brook crashing against the banks? Water is life and we are composed of over 60% of it, so take some time to find water and get back to yourself.
Lildonia is a life coach, yoga instructor and sex educator working in London. She has a background in psychology and mental health and has spent many years working in the health and wellbeing industries. Her week is spent with a mixture of delivering health workshops, teaching group classes and leading coaching sessions. Alongside this, she works as a wellbeing writer for several publications. You can find out more about her work @lildonia.lawrence