Mindful Movements

        Mindful Movements are a series of ten physical exercises introduced into the practice by Thây several years ago. They are often conducted by the community as a group but can be practiced on one’s own. Typically, the mindful movements will take place outside in a circle after a walking meditation or sometimes indoors during a dharma talk in order to stretch the body. 

        Each movement should be carried out three times before proceeding to the next. Body movements should be flowing and graceful and not too rapid. Each movement is coordinated to be in harmony with our breathing. The mindful movements give us a chance to exercise. They allow us to practice sensitivity and awareness to our body, our breathing, and the interconnectedness between our body, our breathing and our mind. 

The diagrams and text below give a brief description of each movement: 

Mindful Movement 1 

        Stand upright with feet slightly apart facing forward. On the in-breath raise both arms so that they are horizontal, hands loose and palms facing downward. On the out-breath lower both arms to your side. 

Mindful Movement 2 

        Start as in Movement 1 with palms facing inwards. On the in-breath raise hands above the head keeping the arms straight to make a semicircle in front of the body. Stretch the body without the feet leaving the ground. On the out-breath reverse the movement, lowering the arms and returning the hands to rest on each side. 

Mindful Movement 3 

        Start with feet slightly apart and arms bent at the elbow and fingertips touching the top of each shoulder. The arms are in the same plane as the body. On the in-breath stretch both arms so that the arms are fully out-stretched, palms upward. On the out-breath return the arms again to the start position. 

Mindful Movement 4 
        Start with arms and eyes facing forward. Palms should be together at waist level in front of the body. On the first in-breath lift the arms (keeping them straight). The hands stay together at eye level. Keeping the movement continuous, take the arms up and out over the shoulders (hands are now separated) and on the first out-breath bring them down behind the body (thus making a big circle with each hand). With the second in-breath reverse the movement bringing the hands above the head and then on the second out-breath bring hands down to the start position. 

Mindful Movement 5 

        Stand with feet slightly apart and hands resting on the hips. Start by leaning forward with head at waist level, legs straight. With the first in-breath rotate the body clockwise pivoting around the waist. The head should describe a wide circle and after the in-breath the body is leaning backwards and upright. On the out-breath reverse the movement taking the head back to its starting position in front of the body. After repeating this cycle three times repeat the movement but rotating the body anti-clockwise. 

Mindful Movement 6 

        Start by leaning forward allowing the arms to hang downwards. With the first in-breath lift up the body from the waist, taking the hands in a wide semi-circle so that the arms stretch upwards. Stretch the whole body. On the outbreath reverse the movement returning the body to its starting position, leaning forward arms loosely downwards. 

Mindful Movement 7 

        Stand with hands resting on hips and feet together at the ankles, slightly apart at the toes. On the in-breath stand on tiptoe and then, with back kept straight and hands on hips, bend at the knees taking the torso down towards the ground. Ankles should stay together. With the out-breath straighten the legs and return to the original position. 

Mindful Movement 8 

        Stand upright with hands on hips, feet together on the ground. With the first in-breath raise the right leg so the knee is just below the level of your waist, the lower leg hanging downwards. With the first outbreath extend the lower half of the leg so the leg is almost straight. With the second in-breath describe a semi-circle with the right foot pivoting around the ankle and bring the lower leg down to its position after the first in-breath. With the second out-breath return the leg to its start position beside the body. After completing this cycle three times with the right leg, repeat three times with the left leg.

Mindful Movement 9 

        Stand upright with hands on hips, feet together on the ground. With the first in-breath bend the right leg and then with the out-breath straighten and extend the leg out in front of the body with the foot just above the ground. With the second inbreath swing the foot around the body to the side, keeping the leg straight and describing as wide a circle as possible so that the foot ends up behind the body with the toe touching the ground. With the second out-breath reverse this movement so the foot returns to its position extended in front of the body. With the third in-breath bend the leg so the foot is below the knee and with the third out-breath return the foot to its start position. After repeating this cycle three times repeat the movement with the left leg. 

Mindful Movement 10 

        Stand upright with your feet a good step away from each other. The left foot should point forward and the right foot point at right angles to this, pointing outwards to the side. The left hand should be on the left hip and right arm should be pointed down the right leg with fingers extended. Your face should be looking sideways in the same direction as the right foot. With the in-breath bend the right leg and raise the right arm, stretching and extending it to just above shoulder level. This should produce a stretch along the left side of the body. With the out-breath reverse the movement returning to the start position. After repeating this cycle three times repeat the movement on the other side of the body (ie bending the left leg). After completing the Mindful Movements, we stand with palms together in the shape of a lotus, and bow to the rest of the community.