Unifying the Mind and the Body with Aerial Therapeutics

“The secret of health for both mind and body is…live the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
Gautama Buddha 

Wellness means nurturing not just the mind, but also the body. 

Too often, our culture atomises health into two separate categories: the mental and the physical. In a Descartes style dualistic view, our bodies are modelled as two distinct systems operating separately, which both need to be kept running to live a full life.

In reality, our minds and bodies are intimately connected and what happens to one affects the other. If our mind feels fear, our body reacts in kind with an accelerated pulse, sweat and rapid eye movements. If we exercise our body research shows it can ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. More and more health professionals worldwide are recognising the connection between mind and body and refocusing to a holistic approach to wellness. 
Integration of mind and body is increasingly seen as a global wellness trend.

My work has always been about enhancing wellbeing and performance through an integration of psychological and mindful movement based strategies. To move towards being our best selves mean looking after the mind and body together. My personal pathway to that goal has focused on flow, the feeling of being in the zone when your skill rises to a challenge.

A new challenge I’ve explored this past year is the wonderful world of aerial yoga. Aerial yoga therapeutics is a supported movement practice that allows you to move in three dimensions to stretch, relax, and cultivate the relationship between body and mind. Supported by a hammock, you’ll move your body into and out of stretches, allowing you to perfectly tailor the challenge to your skill level. As described by aerial therapeutics teacher, Renae Stevens, the practice is performed in a hammock, which is a soft aerial apparatus designed to adapt to the body’s shape, while supporting the body in a suspended position. The hammock mimics the movement of fascia and skin to allow for the experience of freedom in motion.

Having a litany of sports injuries that otherwise follows me wherever I go, I’ve found stretching without constraints and the weightlessness aspects of aerial yoga to be both fun and  flow-enhancing. 

The whole body is supported in the hammock during aerial yoga, allowing you to strengthen joints & decompress the spine while you hang freely. As in all yoga practices there is a focus on the breath and bringing awareness into the present moment. If you’d like to give aerial yoga therapeutics a try, I can completely recommend Renae at Creative Body Flow. In fact, I’ll be working in Renae’s postgraduate Applied Aerial Therapeutics course this year.

Do you think your mind and body are distinct entities? Or perhaps the opposite, do you see no distinction at all between mind and body? Nurturing physical health can have a profound impact on mental health, and vice versa.

I’d encourage you to think about the areas of your life where you feel most connected to your body, activities where your skill and the challenge presented to you meet, and to think about how you could deepen that experience. Take time to notice the impacts your body has on your mind; how do you feel after spending time in nature, after going for a walk, a swim, or a stretch?

Living a rich, full and meaningful life is about nourishing your mind and body, and discovering the intimate connection between them. To look after our mental health, we also should consider the physical body. For me, that journey has been about finding flow, and most recently finding flow doing yoga while hanging in a silk hammock off the ground.
Consider the areas of your life where you feel that connection between your mind and body, or areas where you can imagine that experience, and focus on that experience of unity. Can you connect with that experience more deeply?