Mindful Movement is a term I've chosen to use that covers a way of moving.... all the time you chose to be aware of it. Learning how to be more aware can take many different forms whether you chose to use T'ai chi, Pilates, Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique, most martial arts, yoga, dance, Trager or Hanna somatics.
The essence behind all constructive mindful movement is understanding that our brain controls our posture, muscle tensions, muscle memory,and our ability to change these habits, not the muscles themselves. I spent a good bit of time researching what I felt would work for me, which led me to Hanna somatics. Thomas Hanna was a protege of Feldenkrais, who was a brilliant student of Alexander, so I felt Hanna was encorporating the work of two other respected practitioners of neuromuscular re-patterning. The three dimensional aspect of Hanna's work, his simple set of exercises, his clear description of the three basic responses that hinder healthy posture or 'act-ture' as he preferred to call it, and his description of muscle sensory amnesia, have become an integral part of my teaching when students are working on their own body awareness.
Developing mindful movement is the key to having, not only a balanced, healthier body, but to having true 'feel' ' that mysterious, untangible word used for great horsemen and women.
Through mindful movement we can truly feel how our mind can release tension, rebuild neural pathways to engage muscles that have 'forgotten' how to work, feel how our body is, in relation to the floor and, in turn, the horse, learn how to feel 'softer' 'lighter' 'freer' (Trager approach), develop our breathing in relation to movement and tension, learn how to pause and feel before we move, how to use breathing and intention to make deeper pain-free adjustments to our posture and generally feel a deeper connection to our intuition, the earth and those around us.
I've found the most powerful forms of mindful movement training includes breath work, particularly those that encourage abdominal breathing and the use of your breath to target the softening of the movements. Also those that use visualization, breathing, intention, and pausing or a relaxation between movements trigger deeper more long lasting changes. For me the playfulness of Trager, Hanna Somatics and T'ai chi help me to enjoy the daily practice of mindful movement far more than some of the mindless exercises I've tried to rehab with in the past.
The key is, find the style that suits you and engage in it playfully, enjoy feeling the movements in your body when you have the intention in your mind, before you physically follow through with the movements. Feel how different your body feels when you change from left to right, notice the changes and ponder them without forcing a change. Find which side feels more fluid and mindfully perform that movement several times slowly and softly then visualize the movement on the other side feeling as nice then flow into it with intention first.
Have fun investigating how your body works off the horse, you'll be surprised how much even the tiniest tightness has a significant affect on the movement of your horse!