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Exercise Less; Move More.

Have you heard of this concept: exercise less and move more?

It was introduced to me through Katy Bowman’s book, Move Your DNA, and I LOVE it. It actually supports an idea that yoga had naturally been moving me toward over the years. The basic premise is that our bodies are designed to engage with various activities throughout the day rather than sitting at work all day and then busting our butts off with vigorous exercise for an hour. Rather, if you look at the lifestyles of our ancient ancestors … where are forms really began to take shape … they walked around constantly, squatted low to the ground, hunted, gathered goods, and all sorts of activities packed into a single day. They were constantly moving and using their body in a variety of ways. Almost the opposite of today’s lifestyles. Bowman’s work is based on bringing us back to the diverse movements throughout the day that our bodies were meant for.

And I fully feel this concept.

I grew up an athlete playing soccer, volleyball, and softball. It was year round for me. And as such, exercise was embedded into my life. I spent my days sitting all day during school and then headed to practice or the gym … or sometimes one practice for one sport and then head to the gym. Sounds similar to my experience in the corporate world … sit all day at work and then head to the gym.

I exercised daily for 1-2 hours daily. And yet I was still a bit bulky and overweight. Thunder thighs may have been a trigger of mine for a while.

It used to frustrate me that I would exercise so freakin’ much and still not feel great about myself and my body. In fact, in college, I would develop an eating disorder as a result of thinking that I was going to ever lose weight through exercising. It didn’t last long because thankfully yoga entered my life during that period of time.

But it brings me back to the Bowman’s idea that are bodies are made for regular and diverse movement throughout the day. We aren’t meant to sit all day and then spend an hour working our a$$es off. That’s not the healthiest approach for our bodies. And for many of us, the stress that creates in our bodies and minds does more harm than good.

For me, I actually lost weight when I stopped going to the gym. I had been balancing yoga and the gym for years and had been integrating more stretching and walking throughout the day. And what I noticed is that I physically felt more energized and just overall good when I started skipping the gym. My relationship with food was able to relax a bit as I no longer felt depleted after working out and I knew I needed to modify my caloric intake since I was no longer beating my body up at the gym. Because my body was no longer going from stillness to extreme impact, it was able to heal on deeper levels and find a harmonic (and healthier) way of existing. I started leading Chair Yoga in my office, taking the stairs, going for hikes, and finding my way to the mat not only for Vinyasa but for the gentler practices as well.

Now, I know a lot of people who the gym works for. And I LOVE that for them. There are definitely body and personality times that better lend itself to that kind of approach. But maybe you’re more like me, or are feeling into what Bowman’s research is revealing about the affects of exercise vs movement. And I’d love to encourage you to ask your body if the gym is best for you. There are so many other ways to get healthy movement throughout our day.

Our bodies are beautiful, agile, and capable of and meant for so much more than we allow. For me, yoga in all of its various forms and poses helps me not only tap into my body’s innate wisdom, but it also helps me feel invigorated, centers me, and prepares my body in the best ways possible as I age.

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