Just Breathe: A Lesson in Listening to My Body

I write a lot about food on this blog, but there’s more to life than food and there’s more to me than recipes. Sometimes I’m hit with truths about life that I feel compelled to share with you as they happen. If you ever feel disconnected from your body, dismissing what it needs in favor of what you think you “should” do, especially when it comes to movement, I invite you to read this post.  

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“Should I take hip hop dance or yoga today?” I asked my friend, Lola, the owner of Movement Lab, a mind-body studio in Baltimore.

She responded in a way that I wasn’t anticipating.

If you close your eyes and check in with your body, what is it asking from you?

More dance, cardio, sweat?

Something deeper, more stretch, more mindful?

movement-labMy weary, rundown body knew the answer.

The body that said, “Yes,” to one too many commitments over the past few months. The body that started to get sick last week as a result of being so exhausted. The body that performs for me at such a high level each day, carrying me from one event, presentation, and meeting to the next.

My physical body wanted to keep moving at its normal, breakneck pace. Dance! Sweat! Work it OUT!

But my soul knew I needed something else.

Rest. Stillness. Peace.

Breath.

As I made my way through rush hour traffic to get to class, a new song came on the radio. A song I hadn’t heard before. A song with a message that I needed to hear.

Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at my feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe

Off to yoga I went.

As I left class, Lola saw me, smiled, and asked, “Did you serve your body today?”

I smiled back, still experiencing the peace and stillness from class, “Yes, yes I did.”

I couldn’t help but reflect on the lyrics of the song, the class itself, and our conversation on either end of it.

What if we were more intentional about listening to our body, noticing what it needs, ignoring the “shoulds” and aligning ourselves with what would serve our body?

Have you ever forced yourself to work out and move your body in a way that ignored how it was feeling, neglecting to check in with yourself to find out what would feel best for you in that moment?

Maybe you pushed too hard on a day your body was crying out for rest.

Maybe every fiber of your being was whispering to you to slow down, but you added another mile to your run.

Maybe you wanted to take a peaceful walk in the woods or try a yoga class but didn’t think you’d sweat enough, so you didn’t do it because it wouldn’t “count”.

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve ignored my body’s inner voice and pushed it when I needed to rest.

I want to be clear. This is not about slacking off or not trying.

Some days your body will tell you it wants to be pushed or that you have pent-up energy and want to take that kickboxing class, go spinning, hit the trail for a long run or hike, or dance until your feet hurt.

Other days it will tell you that it needs a quiet nature walk, a yoga class, a relaxing swim, or a Nia class.

I invite you to pay attention to your body this week, to heed its whisper.

To get curious and notice without judgment how you’re feeling.

To be honest about what would serve your body best in that moment.

To pursue movement that brings you joy, freedom, and restoration.

To breathe, just breathe

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6 Comments

  1. Tracy

    Wonderful post. Wish I could share it. I don’t see a FB or Twitter button. Anyway, the song you chose is perfect. I’ve always been refreshed and centered by it. Thank you for sharing.

    • Rachel Druckenmiller

      Tracy, thanks so much for taking the time to read it and leave me a comment. I love that song, too, and it was the first time I had heard it! So wonderful. If you scroll to the very bottom of the post, there is a comment that says “Share This” with 3 icons, including FB as the middle icon, so if you click that, it should let you share it. Also, if you go to my Facebook page, you can just share the post directly from there – it’s pinned to the top of my page: https://www.facebook.com/rachelsnourishingkitchen/. Let me know if that works for you!

  2. Kim

    I really needed this today (well, most days)! I am exactly you always thinking I need to “sweat” to make my time worthwhile even though I know better. When we push that much we create so much inflammation in our bodies and our bodies go into survival mode and stop responding the way we want them to anyway. I know this yet I still want that “sweat.” We are programmed to work hard and when we take it a bit easy we believe we copped out or something when in reality we are doing the smartest, healthiest thing we can for our body at that moment. Today I chose to walk instead of run and that was a huge milestone for me as I have known for awhile that running is why I have all these little injuries. It felt so good to do the right thing for my body! Thank you again, this was such a timely piece!

    • Rachel Druckenmiller

      Kim, you’re awesome! Way to tune in and listen to what your body needed, especially in the midst of injuries, and give it what it needed most. Resisting the desire to sweat is SO HARD. I’m doing the same thing today. I was going to take dance tonight, but it is just so beautiful outside that I’m going to take a walk along a beautiful trail with my husband after work. Thanks so much for taking the time to read it and share your experience with me. I’m honored that you thought to reach out!

  3. Jackie Hill

    I started doing this last month and signed up for my first yoga class AND a strength training class. I am a cardio girl and finally listened to my inner voice. I LOVE both of these new classes! I feel stronger, more flexible and more balanced – body, mind and spirit. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

    • Rachel Druckenmiller

      Jackie, that is awesome! I love it! It is so hard when you’re used to moving your body a certain way and try something different, isn’t it? It’s like there is a resistance, but once you get past it, it feels so good to move in ways that serve your body. Thanks for taking the time to read this and leave a comment. I’m glad it resonated with you!

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