Move Well So You Can Think and Feel Well

“Change happens through movement and movement heals.” – Joseph Pilates

You’ve heard it countless times – movement makes you healthier. Health experts even say that movement doesn’t always mean exercise. As long you’re moving, it’s better than doing nothing.

Today, however, we will focus on another aspect of movement, which helps you unblock stuck energy in your body. You may have emotions, feelings, and trauma stored in your body that are weighing you down. And movement will help you release all that and welcome new, revitalizing energy.

Feelings, Movement, and the Brain

Your feelings affect how you move, and your movement affects your brain. This means that people who are anxious or suffer from mood disorders benefit from movement. A study shows that regular aerobic exercise can reduce anxiety. How? When you exercise, you experience rapid heart rate, which is one of the symptoms of anxiety. When you exercise regularly, you build a tolerance to that symptom. (1)

Another factor that helps stave off depressive symptoms is that regular exercise increases the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF. This is a brain protein that helps produce new brain cells while strengthening the ones you already have.

Apart from aerobic exercise, meditative movement also shows promise in reducing anxiety and depressive symptoms. Meditative movement is more about being in tune with one’s self as opposed to sweating it out and burning calories. Some of the most popular meditative movements are tai chi, Qigong, and yoga.

One study even shows that regular yoga movement can help with post-traumatic stress disorder. When you learn how to breathe well and control your rhythm and posture, you can also better control symptoms or prevent them altogether.

Synchronized Movements Help Tons, Too

Practicing movement alone is great, but there are also benefits in synchronized movements. You might have friends who invited you to group dance or yoga classes saying it’s fun. It is, but there’s more to it than keeping fit while socializing – it boosts self-esteem. The study’s abstract says:

“Grounded in the science of coordination dynamics, previous research has revealed that interpersonal synchrony has numerous affiliative and pro-social consequences, such as enhanced rapport, cooperation, and social-cognitive functioning.”

In this study, a video of a woman demonstrating how to do arm curls was shown to the participants. They were asked to coordinate and not coordinate with the movement seen in the video, and they filled out a mood report afterward. The results showed that when the participants successfully synchronized their movements, they felt better with themselves. They found that they felt closer to the person in the video as well as the other participants.

Dance as Movement Therapy


Dance-related movement therapy is also something you could consider if you want to release stuck up negative energy. This type of movement is used as a therapeutic intervention for children who experienced trauma.

Usually, therapists use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as an approach when working with traumatized children. This is described as a top-down approach that focuses on the person’s thoughts and beliefs and then helps them find healthier thought patterns.

However, Caitlyn Goggin from Lesley University wrote a thesis showing that a bottom-up approach could be a better start for treating patients with trauma. This type of approach focuses on mindfulness, dance/movement therapy, and body-based coping skills. This approach can help children feel more at ease and better about themselves before diving deep into the trauma they’re feeling and thinking.

Brain Synchronisation

Hanna Poikonen wrote an article titled “A dan­cer’s brain de­vel­ops in a unique way,” how exactly? Poikonen starts off by saying that movement triggers an intuitive neural network in a dancer’s brain.

She compared the brain functions of professional dancers to those who have no experience with dance. Poikonen found that the dancers’ brains reacted more to the changes in music. They also showed stronger theta synchronization, which meant sharper memory and emotion processing.

Further, she also discussed “flow” in dancing, which is a phenomenon where people become fully immersed in a specific activity. According to Poikonen, people who experience flow are more content with what they do and are more productive in the activity they choose. When this happens, the brain’s neural network takes a break from detailed observation as well as logical deduction. As a result, the brain focuses on the creative neural network, which makes you more relaxed.

Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE)

Screencap from TRE FOR ALL Video

Apart from dance/movement therapy, TRE is another way to release tension and trauma from the body. It comprises seven exercises – all of which trigger the body’s natural tremoring reflex. You’ll notice that your legs will start shaking after these exercises and it will move up the spine. When the tremoring begins, you’ll rest on the mat and then let your mind, body, and emotions calm down.

The purpose of these exercises is to teach people how to deal with deep trauma that they’ve been holding on to. You may also find that it helps build resilience to stressful situations as it helps you to stay calm even in overwhelming situations. It’s the reason why some stage performers do a little shake before the show begins – it reduces nervousness and anxiety.

When you are stressed out or just went through a difficult ordeal, your body can get stuck in a fight-flight-freeze mode. This will elevate your heart rate as well as tense up your muscles and nervous system. Simply put, your body stays in defense mode so you remain ready. This state of your body isn’t helpful to your well-being and may become chronic if not addressed. This is what TRE helps with – it resets your system.

We recommend that you seek a TRE practitioner to learn these exercises the right way.

Try Tai Chi or Qigong

Both are Chinese movement therapies that have been proven to improve one’s health and well-being, yet, what makes them different?

Tai chi was developed as an exercise based on martial arts. It is known as moving meditation because it uses slow and gentle movements that resemble movements in nature. You may also find yourself standing or taking small steps throughout this exercise.

Qigong or Chi gong, on the other hand, is more focused on intention and mindfulness. Qi or Chi is energy, and the Chinese believed that this is the life force that powers a person’s body and spirit. Qigong goes deep within by using repetitive stationary movements. The stillness helps a person focus on his thoughts, emotions, and qi.

Aside from the difference in intention and movement, Qigong is more focused on movement that benefits a specific part of the body as opposed to tai chi which is a flowing sequence for the entire body.

For instance, if you want to improve your breathing, the Qigong movements will focus on opening up the lungs rather than doing a whole movement sequence. The bottom line is you can do Qigong with tai chi but not the other way around because tai chi uses Qigong concepts and theories. (2)

You can start by doing either tai chi or Qigong, and then gradually do them together. These exercises are excellent together for the mind, body, and spirit. Here are some of the benefits you can look forward to:

Tai chi benefits:

  • Improves mood, energy, stamina, flexibility, agility, balance
  • Decreases depressive, anxiety, and stress symptoms
  • Improves muscle strength
  • Stronger immune system
  • Better sleep quality
  • Reduces joint pain
  • Lowers blood pressure and prevents heart problems
  • Reduces the risk of falls for seniors

Qigong benefits:

  • Stimulates muscle power and loosens muscle tension
  • Strengthens organ systems
  • Improves cardio-pulmonary and vascular function
  • Improves nerve strength
  • Prevents injuries on bones, joints, and ligaments
  • Hastens recovery time from injuries and operations
  • Builds athletic power
  • Helps balance emotions and calms you down when stressed

Brain Gym Exercises

Incorporate both brainpower and physical movement with these brain gym exercises that will improve brain function. They’ll help you become mentally sharper, which will help boost your self-esteem and confidence. These exercises will also help restore harmony in your body and stimulate natural healing processes. (3) Here are three you can get started with whether you’re at home or the office:

1. Neck Circles

Are your neck muscles always tensed, which then leads to a bad headache? Try doing neck circles to loosen the muscles.

  • Sit on a chair with your straight back.
  • Roll the shoulders back. Close the eyes. Lower the head to the right side (facing front).
  • Roll the neck backward all the way to the left side and the center (clockwise). This is one neck circle.
  • Do 10 reps for each side.

2. Energy Yawn

Are your eyes always strained from working long hours in front of the computer? The energy yawn exercise will help relax the eyes and jaw.

  • Put your index and middle fingers on a jaw joint.
  • Open the mouth and use your fingers to gently massage the jaw joint using circular motions. Do five circular motions.
  • Close the mouth and gently massage the jaw joint again. Do five circular motions.
  • Complete 10 reps.

3. Belly Breathing

Are you feeling anxious or nervous? Belly breathing helps increase the oxygen flow in the body, which helps you relax and calm down.

  • Stand up straight or sit down, then place your right hand on your belly while putting your left hand on your chest.
  • Breathe in; the belly should rise.
  • Purse the lips and then breathe out slowly.
  • Do 30 reps.

It’s All Connected!

The beauty of movement is that it lets you access that intimate connection between the mind, body, and spirit. You’re not just moving to burn calories and lose weight. You’re also becoming more in tune with your inner thoughts and feelings.

When it comes to health and well-being, there’s no one formula because every person is different. It’s the same reason why people try out different approaches that will be more effective for them. In terms of movement, there are tons to choose from, depending on your needs and situation. Try all of them, if you can.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get moving!



1. How Simply Moving Benefits Your Health

2. The Difference Between Tai Chi and Qigong

3. 15 Simple Brain Gym Exercises and Its Benefits