The revolutionary road of Mindful Movement
PUBLISHED: 06:26 19 June 2014
The mindful revolution continues, quietly. Across the country, school pupils and business leaders are being taught to focus on the present.
Through mindful movement, we are being encouraged to pay attention to our surroundings, our thoughts and our feelings, while we glide to pick up a pen or attempt a form of exercise.
Amir Greenstein, 38, founded Feeling the Healing, a new wellbeing and fitness studio, in Golders Green with his wife, Joanna, 37. Greenstein describes mindful movement as “learning how to balance your body and your mind through exercise.” He offers classes such as yoga, meditation, tai chi and holistic bootcamps, which include all of the above, combined with circuit training.
In his classes, Greenstein teaches awareness, education and growth. “The awareness is a bit like a light switch,” he says. “Once it’s switched on, once you become aware of posture, once you become aware of breathing, you can’t become unaware.”
Outside of New Age metaphors, how can we start to be mindful? Greenstein recommends that we start gradually and with intent. “Intent is a way of saying that there is a heart and mind connection with the body. When I sit straight, I don’t just mechanically push my upper body up, I think about lengthening from the crown of my head up, and lengthening my tailbone down.”
Mindful movement challenges the gym mentality where people half-heartedly squeeze in sessions after work. “People’s lives are so busy, and so stressful; there’s such a fast pace that exercising in a traditional gym way is very unsustainable.”
Instead, disciplines like yoga and tai chi are about creating an approach where “exercise becomes part of your life, like eating or drinking. We teach that you don’t have to push yourself to the exhaustion point. You just want to come out feeling more energised – and also being able to calm, and focus yourself.”
Joanna grew up locally, near Golders Green, while Greenstein is an ex-pat Israeli. “I was in the Israeli army. I personally did not like it that much. The army doesn’t really care about the experience you have in your body – it just wants your fitness to be a certain level. It’s a very low-level training.”
Greenstein’s path into mindful movement was all about seeking contentment. “I went to look for things that would make me happier. I figured I’m a young man, so if I’m not that happy now, what’s going to happen to me in 20 years?
“I studied to be a hands-on massage and healing therapist, and I also taught personal training, tai chi, and a bit of yoga. Gradually, I came to realise that what I love doing the most is teaching people how to balance their body and mind through exercises.”
By aligning our mind and our body, Greenstein believes it is easier for us to gain a sense of well-being. “When you work with your body in a symmetric and aligned way, you become very content – which means that you sleep better at night. Life is still challenging, but it’s easier to be who you are.”
We may find ourselves working out because we want to change ourselves; punishing ourselves for a flat stomach. Mindful movement may also help us to achieve toned arms, but, ultimately, it is about being happy within yourself.
According to Greenstein, “it’s impossible to sustain your well-being, your energy and your balance, without falling in love with the experience of who you are.” Perhaps that’s something to bear in mind when running, red-faced, for the bus.
For more information and prices, visit feelingthehealing.co.uk.