Finding Balance in MOVEMENT
Stirrups on a western saddle are adjusted so the rider’s knees are slightly bent and the balls of each foot firmly planted. Here the rider finds balance on the back of a horse. Yet each person is different when it comes to movement. Some ride swiftly on the back of a gelding; others pound the pavement in running shoes. No matter how you move, the importance to a balanced life is to move to your own groove. Three employees of Valley Natural Foods offer insights to the different ways they focus and move to find balance in their lives. All three work in the wellness department and know about the importance of lifestyle to one’s overall health.
By: Charli Mills, Editor, Living Naturally (Valley Natural Foods’ print publication). Featured in the Spring 2016 Living Naturally edition. Click here to view the entire issue.
Photos by: Susie Hessburg
“You can walk anytime and anywhere. It’s absolutely free! All you need is a pair of shoes,” says Rita.
She’s discovered that over the years, walking has been the most consistent activity for her. It’s one she enjoys. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, walking is the most popular form of aerobic exercise in the US. Even walking 10 minutes a day can improve health. This is something Rita understands. She began walking after the birth of her second child as a way to get back in shape.
“Now I’m taking my grandbaby for walks,” she says. She also has a three-year old golden lab, Glory, who is her walking partner.
Another reason for walking is for body and mind balance. Rita has an auto-immune disorder that can cause discomfort if she doesn’t manage her stress level and energy output. Daily walks help her. Walking in nature inspires her.
Rita says, “I do not use any devices…opting instead to unplug and embrace what Mother Nature has to offer.” She lives near a natural habitat, thriving with birds and woodland critters. Glory needs her walks everyday and this motivates Rita, especially when the weather is colder.
Now that it’s spring, walking is a great activity to get back in shape and reconnect the way Rita does.
“Yoga and meditation are crucial in keeping my stress levels down, relaxing my mind and creating overall balance,” says Anna. Yoga is not just a scheduled class to Anna. It’s more like a way of life, the same as her commitment to eating a well-rounded diet of local and organic produce.
Anna has been practicing yoga for 12 years and meditation for nine. Initially, Anna began with vigorous Bikram yoga, but she shifted to a practice of balance, surrender and meditation. Instead of being sore the next day after an intense yoga session, she has learned the value of meditation sitting periods.
The Mayo Clinic encourages meditation as a useful addition to medical treatments, including cancer, pain and high blood pressure. Yoga is a form of meditation.
Anna says, “Yoga was a great entry point for me because it allowed me to quiet my mind by focusing on my physical body.” It took her several years before she could sit down for meditation. Now she regularly meditates in the morning, after work and before bed.
An important discovery Anna made is how taking the time to meditate actually gains her more time for other activities. She says, “Activities that usually take an hour may only take 45 minutes to complete because the mind becomes more focused and efficient with meditation practice.” Three five minute sessions amounts to only 15 minutes and it brings balance throughout the day.
Backyard and community gardens grow more popular each year in Minnesota. Even apartment condo or urban residents can grow container or patio gardens. Even The Mayo Clinic recognizes that gardening provides both activity for the body and nourishment for the soul.
Amanda understands this balance and finds gardening to be the most pleasurable activity she does. In fact, it’s something she’s done since she was old enough to tell a carrot from a Creeping Charlie. Now she replaces parts of her lawn with gardens.
A bonus to gardening is the bounty of good food. Amanda appreciates that she gets to eat what she grows. Balance is crucial to her overall health and gardening is physical, mental and emotional. It’s made her wise, too.
“I truly believe nature seeks balance. When we, as busy human people, stray to one side or the other, there is always a guidance system to help us remember to get back in balance,” she says.
Whether you garden in a community setting like the community gardens at Valley Natural Foods, meet up with others to save seeds or garden in your back yard, it’s a good place to make friends, even of bees and monarchs.
FINDING YOUR GROOVE
What Rita, Anna and Amanda have discovered is that a healthy lifestyle includes one that makes space for movement and contemplation. We all need to find our own groove, something outside of our daily tasks and away from digital devices. Whether you sign up for yoga, walk your neighborhood or convert a plot of lawn into a garden bed, find an activity that moves your body, mind and spirit.
Movement calls us to balance like a rider on a horse, relaxed yet connected. Where do you find your balance? It’s not about how much you can do, but how movement can slow down your mind and be more present. Like Anna says, “We need to focus less on adding activities to our already over complicated and over-booked lives, and instead focus on simplifying and slowing down.” It’s quality that matters.
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