The following 12 mindful movements are adapted from the seminal work of Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. He developed 10 mindful movements that he and his friends have been doing many years, but I changed a few and added a few movements to make the series more amenable to my body … specifically, to make it easier on my back, hips, and knees.
The first 6 are the same as his, and I modified the 7th. I replaced his 8th and 9th movements (since I prefer not to balance on one leg) with 4 exercises I regularly do for the benefit of my back and hips (which are the new 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th movements). And the 12th movement is essentially the same as Thay’s final movement (Thay is the name his friends call him), however I do it at only a 45 degree angle, and I made it more of a Tai Chi “heaven and earth” stretch. I hope you enjoy them.
The 12 mindful movements are rooted in breathing. They help bring the body and mind together, and help you live more fully in the present moment. Stay balanced. Breathe into your belly, and enjoy your breathing. Remember to smile.
1. Breathe in and lift arms, stretch forward. Breathe out and lower arms. Do 3 times.
2. Breathe in and lift arms to sky, stretch upward. Breathe out and lower arms. Do 3 times.
3. Place fingertips on shoulders, breathe in and bloom like a flower. Breathe out and return fingertips to shoulders. Do 3 times.
4. Stand with feet a bit wider than shoulder width. Breathe in while making half circle with arms, breathe out while completing the circle. Reverse direction and complete another circle. This makes one set … do 3 sets.
5. Bend over and drop arms to earth. Breathe in and raise arms to sky, stretch upward. Breathe out and drop arms to earth, stretch downward. Do 3 times.
6. Put hands on hips. Bend forward and breathe in while making half circle with upper body, and at the point you are leaning back breathe out while completing the circle. Reverse direction and complete another circle. This makes one set … do 3 sets.
7. Breathe in to stand on tippy toes, breathe out while squatting and extending arms. Do 3 times.
8. Lie on floor and breathe in, then breathe out while pulling knees to chest. Do 3 times.
9. Sit on floor with right leg extended, breathe in with legs crossed and left foot at right knee. Breathe out while twisting back to right. Reverse and twist back to left. This makes one set … do 3 sets.
10. Lie on floor and breathe in, then breathe out while pulling right leg up and over for hip stretch. Reverse and pull left leg up and over. This makes one set … do 3 sets.
11. Lie on floor and breathe in, then breathe out while doing stomach crunch. Repeat at least 12 times.
12. Step right and forward at a 45 degree angle. Breathe in while bending knee, lifting right hand to sky, and extending left hand to earth. Breathe out and return to starting position. Do 3 times. Reverse, and do 3 more times.
Bow and give thanks with a smile.