What is Mindful Movement and how is it used in Counseling?

Mindful movement is a mixture of yoga, mindfulness meditation, breathing, and relaxation exercises. I work with my clients to calm their mind by first calming their body. I believe that when we feel confident, strong, and steady in our body our emotional well-being follows suit.

Mindful Movement is not about fitness. It is about emotional health and well-being. My approach is collaborative and accessible so we move as much or a little as you prefer, along with talking. This may be a good fit if you are looking for support to cope with anxiety, depression, trauma, ADHD, or chronic stress.

We will move together to:

  • Self-regulate

  • Reduce stress

  • Build confidence and strength

  • Improve emotional awareness and acceptance

  • Increase Self-Compassion

  • Improve focus and attention to the present moment 

Who could benefit from Mindful Movement Counseling?

I believe everyone could, but specifically:

  • Children and Adults learning to manage the symptoms of ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, Chronic Stress

  • Couples and families wanting to improve their healthy attachments to each other

  • Children and Adults wanting to improve self-confidence and body image

What do Clients say about Mindful Movement?

“When I was diagnosed with a chronic pain condition, my many doctors kept encouraging me to try mindfulness meditation. They led me to YouTube and books to try on my own. After multiple attempts, I found I couldn't sit still or keep my mind focused, so I figured it wasn't for me or I wasn't doing it "right".

I was a constant battle with my body. My pain was exacerbated by stress, but I couldn't help feeling stress because I lived in fear of more pain. I was stuck in a vicious circle and knew I had to find a way to address the stress. Because of my failed meditation experiment, I started practicing yoga. I discovered through the slow, deliberate movement and guidance given in an instructor-led class, I learned how to listen to my body in the moment and adjust my poses to give it what it needs. I learned to quiet myself so I could connect to my mind and heart and through this practice, found acceptance and connection. 

When I found Danelle, I was looking for someone who understood and appreciated this connection between our minds and bodies. And because the vulnerability was not something I was comfortable with, who would be open to using body movement to talk about deeper topics. We would talk first, then get into gentle movement, then when I was in a relaxed position, she would lead me through a mediation. I was able to then use what we went through and talked about in practice throughout my day. As with anything else that lasts, I found mindfulness is about creating a practice, building the muscle memory to help soothe myself through stressful situations or times of conflict. I can truly say that adding this practice to my day have helped me grow immensely and that I can go to when I need to work through a complex issue. I stopped feeling awkward and more open and honest with myself and with Danelle. I truly feel like I'm experiencing a deeper connection and a growing love for myself because I took this journey with my whole self.”

And

“Close your eyes, take a deep breath and deepen the stretch.  Let your body relax, muscle by muscle.  Take a moment to center yourself and seal in your practice. 

Walking into Danelle’s office always felt like a sigh of relief for me.  I knew, that for the next hour, I would have a truly safe space in which to reflect, be honest and be heard.  For most people, going to therapy mostly involves talking and listening.  That approach works perfectly well for some people, but I had never really liked the idea of just talking.  Having to sit still and try to stay focused for an hour, often while trying to process emotions, feelings and fears never felt comfortable for me.  That is why I sought out Danelle.  Danelle practices with the mindset that therapy does not have to be solely focused on talking.  We are complex beings, our feelings, emotions and moods affect not only our minds, but our bodies as well.  The tension we feel from an emotional experience will inevitably be held in our neck, shoulders, back and many other places.  We may not realize how we tighten all of our muscles during an experience, and then tighten them again while reliving and processing it in therapy.  Danelle understands that pain in the mind often manifests as pain in the body, and using yoga, movement and mindfulness meditation, she brings a unique and wholesome approach to combating both experiences of pain, to foster a sense of relief and true recovery.

 In our sessions, I was encouraged to talk for however long I needed, which rarely took the whole hour.  Then, when I ran out of words, and she had given me her advice and feedback, she would pull out the pile of meditation readings and practices.  She would give me a few options to choose from based on what we had talked about that day and what she felt I needed at that moment.  Next, she would roll out the two yoga mats, we would both slip out of our shoes and my favorite part of therapy would begin.  An experienced yoga teacher, Danelle would ask what muscles needed extra attention that day and she would guide me through a gentle flow, full of deep stretches and light-hearted laughs between us.  Yoga and movement are not only ways to relax your body during therapy, but also a way to strengthen the bond between counselor and client.

 Moving freely in front of someone takes a level of comfort that does not always come easily.  As we practiced together over a period of weeks and months, our connection became more trusting and more comfortable.  Danelle could tell that I responded very well to moving and when talking became too difficult she would break out the mats and let yoga become a way to calm myself from the painful thing I was struggling to put words to.  In those moments, I could forget about the pain or sadness I was feeling and simply focus on following her through movement, letting each stretch and pose relax my muscles as well as my mind.

 At the end of the session, we would sit on the yoga mats and Danelle would guide me through the mindfulness meditation that we had chosen.  Often making sure to tie in the experiences I had discussed, making it relatable and relevant.  Meditation became the perfect way to end all of our sessions, helping me to relax and ground myself, often with key phrases like “Love yourself” that I could then carry with me out into the world.  She would always end our sessions with the phrase; “May the light and wisdom in me, honor the light and wisdom in you. Namaste”.  With those words, I could leave the office feeling like I had detoxed from the negative feelings and emotions that I had carried in, often feeling lighter and having a new sense of relaxation and even happiness. 

Incorporating movement and meditation into therapy sessions may seem too “hippie” or “alternative” for some people.  But, if given the chance, the benefits will greatly outweigh any perceived discomfort if truly embraced.  The mind and the body are fully connected, so why do we often try to treat one and not the other?  They are not separate entities.  Movement and meditation can unlock healing processes that cannot be matched by talking alone.  It takes trust and an open mind to embrace this idea, but with someone like Danelle, it is well worth the journey.”

What is Yoga Calm®?

Yoga calm is yoga and mindfulness program that was developed for Children and Teens in Portland Oregon. I have taught yoga calm in the schools, private practice, and in a wellness center.

It is the practice of:

  • Breathing

  • Exercise

  • Meditation & Positive Thinking

  • Healthy Lifestyle

  • Relaxation

Yoga Calm teaches the Principles of:

  • Stillness - Inner Peace - Learning to Pause & Relax - Going on a Vacation in Your Mind - Self-Control & Self-Regulation

  • Listening - Developing a strong sense of self by learning to listen to the messages that come from the mind (thoughts), body (sensations), and heart (feelings).

  • Grounding - Feeling safe, steady, and connected (rooted) to the earth. Learning to get calm and in control of ones mind and body. Being Present, Balanced, Focused.

  • Strength:

    • Physical Strength - Muscle Power - Exercise and Healthy Eating

    • Mental Strength - Brain Power - Healthy Self-Talk (How we think about ourselves) and Decision Making in challenging, stressful situations

    • Emotional Strength - Heart Power - Ability to feel, identify, and express feelings without harming oneself or others

  • Community - 4 C’s

    • Communication (listening and expressing self)

    • Connection (relationships)

    • Cooperation (getting along and working together)

    • Compassion

I offer 60 minute individual, small group, and class yoga instruction for all ages as a certified Yoga Calm® instructor and Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200). This can be in collaboration with your counseling or to introduce you or your group to the healthy mind/body practice of yoga.

Read more about mindful movement here Mindful Movement and Mental Health Part 1 or Part 2 or How Family Yoga Tools Can Increase the Harmony in your Home

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