Let Your Body Move on Its Own

Did you know your body can move without you consciously willing it? Consciously intended movement often starts with a thought. I want more coffee. Then we pick up our mug, walk to the kitchen, and pour ourselves more coffee. This complex series of motions feels automatic and runs along well-oiled grooves in our gray matter, but we did consciously decide to move.

Yet there’s another intelligence inside us. A subterranean, subconscious, body-based intelligence. And it can decide to move you, too.

Don’t believe me? Ever whip your arm up to block something flying at your head before you had time to think? Or move into a stretch you hadn’t planned to do during yoga? That’s the lizard brain, the spinal cord, and the underlying intelligence moving you. And it can do a lot more if you let it.

Lately, I’ve been playing with letting my body move on its own. But first, I’ve set some parameters. (Picture this as me talking to myself.) I’ve asked:

  • For movements I can do on a yoga mat in a comfortable range
  • To not hold positions uncomfortably long
  • To leave trauma work—frozen, tight, scary places—for another time

With that set, I put down my yoga mat, close my eyes, and invite my body to move. Then I wait. I’m feeling my body sensations, noticing when an inner impulse builds and then…scwhoop…my arm lifts, my hips turn, or something else moves.

I’ve had the most eye-opening “yoga” sessions this way. Who knew how badly the front of my neck wanted to stretch? Or that I needed to spend 30 minutes a day mobilizing my spine. One whole session was dedicated to opening my shoulders. Another to stretching my inner thighs. I could go on and on.

Of course, I’ve been doing this a long time, so my body starts moving easily. If this is all new to you, here are two simple ways to start:

  • Weight shifts: I learned by standing and noticing my weight shifts. Your body automatically does these to keep you upright. If you pay attention, and invite more movement, the motions may get bigger and more complex.
  • Start with your head: Lie face up on a mat and invite your head to slowly move. You might begin by just noticing which way it’s inclined to roll.

See if you can surrender and let your body take control. For some, this is going to be a big challenge. I’ll talk more about that next time in part 2 of this topic. For now, just ask your body how it would like to move.

5 thoughts on “Let Your Body Move on Its Own

  1. I’m definitely interested in this, Virginia! It’s fascinating and of course, I always need a bit (!) of help and direction in healing. Please do keep me on the mailing list. I’m holding out hope that some day (“who knows how, who knows when”) I’ll be a regular with you again; you made my life better. Thank you, and all good wishes…Jane

  2. So happy this is of interest, Jane! And so lovely to hear from you. Of course I’ll leave you on the list. I hope one day too to get back to some hands-on work in an office.
    🙂 Virginia

  3. Ive done this my entire life. I thought it was just a thing people knew to do. Ive saved my ass way to many times this way

    1. You’re right, it’s absolutely a thing people know how to do; we’re born with this instinctual ability. It’s just that some of us get more disconnected from our bodies over time because of various life experiences, like trauma. It’s lovely that you’re so connected to yourself–your baseball story is a perfect example. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. For example when i was on baseball practice in highschool i got hit on the head with a baseball. As it was coming towards it my body noticed it and my head readjusted on its own. If the ball would have hit me anywhere else it would have been bad. From what the trainer said.

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