What is a Practice?

Have you ever watched a baby wriggle and squirm, or a toddler repeatedly stand up and then fall, get up and fall again? What they are doing is practicing movement. Babies don’t have a schedule, workout gear, or a gym to go to; they’re simply moving because it feels good and they want to get going. Maybe it’s time we take a tip from them, and our younger selves, and expand on our concept of what a movement practice is.

If you’re like me, “practice” evokes memories of being forced to do something over and over for the sake of improvement, even though the thrill of doing it was long gone. On the other hand, some practices I loved, like running drills in preparation for big games when I was part of a soccer team.

Setting up a practice seems monumental because of the pressure you feel to be perfect right from the start. So you think – I have to find an hour every day, change my clothes, sign up for a class, go to a gym, etc. Before you know it, you’re defeated. But maybe it doesn’t have to be so complicated after all. Maybe it’s as simple as standing up while sitting at your desk and just stretching your arms up high, doing some knee bends while making coffee in the morning, or arm circles and toe touches while watching TV. Start small, do what feels good, and take deep breaths. That is a fledgling practice right there.

  • Gabriela is an Executive Producer at Omnifilm Entertainment and Movement by NM.

These incremental movement steps give you a foundation to build on. From there, you can get a yoga mat and create a tiny space you can call your own. Get a couple of small weights and a resistance band at the drugstore. Eventually, add a balance ball. Pretty soon you have a mini gym right where you are that you can use any time you feel like it. You could try a warm up class from one of the Movement by NM programs, and work towards expanding your repertoire of moves, one day at a time. Before you know it, a practice is born!

These little actions will inevitably add up and you will want to do more. Practice takes willpower, and just like all your other muscles, willpower gets stronger when you use it. Your body wants to move. Take what it gives you –– in that moment, that day, that time. Relearn the joy of movement. The routine will come when you’re ready.

Creative life does not always embrace structure, so sneak in from the back door to trick yourself into starting a practice. Allow yourself to broaden your concept of a movement practice. You will find a new way to motivate yourself to start moving and keep moving.