Finding Stillness in Motion: The Benefits of Mindful Movement Practice

Mindful movement exercises such as Yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigong have proven to be transformative for the mental and physical health of veterans. Since January 17th, all US veterans have been eligible for free mental health care. This shift marks a positive and meaningful step towards recognising the value of mental health for all 1.

This blog will highlight the benefits of mindful movement, not only for veterans, but for all individuals seeking to prioritise their physical and emotional well-being. Discover how incorporating mindful movement practices can lead to a more harmonious mind-body connection and promote overall well-being.

The Benefits of Movement

Movement, in and of itself, is fundamental to human existence. It fosters healthy breathing patterns and improved mood and acts to metabolise all areas of the body so that everything is working as it should.

Unfortunately, the realities of modern life mean that many people are, for the most part, sedentary. Regular movement and physical activity offer a huge variety of benefits. These include:

  • Strength and fitness
  • Improvement of blood circulation
  • Regular and healthy sleeping patterns
  • Enhancing mental health and well-being 2

While all these benefits interlink, the final point is particularly pertinent for individuals experiencing dysregulation in the mind and body. Physical movement allows for the release of endorphins, the body’s natural ‘happiness’ chemicals. Endorphins alleviate stress, anxiety and depression, which are vital for wellbeing 3.

The Link Between Mindfulness and Movement

Mindful movement refers to activities that actively stimulate the brain and body. For those with mental health challenges that manifest as attention deficit, stationary practices such as meditation can be difficult. The restless nature of those who have experienced trauma can hinder productive engagement with such exercises. As a result, the act of embracing mindful movement becomes all the more beneficial 4.

Everyone is different, so everyone can benefit from different forms of mindful movement. For some, this could be traditional Tai Chi and Qigong exercises, which will be explored in-depth. However, for others, mindful movement practices could refer to:

  • Walking – Take a slow and deliberate pace, and listen to the sound of your foot thud on the pavement or sink into the grass. It is also helpful to notice the smells, sounds and sights and how they interact with your body as you walk.
  • Being in Nature – If you have access to outdoor space, you can connect with nature by tending to plants, thinking about what each plant might need and being there to appreciate the life cycle over the changing seasons.
  • Swimming – Think carefully about the sensation of being immersed in water, take slow strokes and be aware of the resistance of the water and how it feels against your skin 5.

These mindful movement practices aren’t just about physical exercise but about attuning to yourself and your surroundings and appreciating how the two connect.

Mind-Body Connection

By accepting and advocating for the mind-body connection, it is possible to promote physical and emotional well-being. Early twentieth-century approaches to medicine have led many to believe that the mind and body are extricable forces. In practice, everyone knows this is not the case; after all, it is a scientific fact that a brain cannot live without a body. However, treatments provided to those who are experiencing mental health challenges can often ignore the power of the body in promoting healing 6.

Stress, for example, has been proven to lead to increased muscle tension, headaches and even digestion issues. In contrast, relaxing activities that promote meditative thought and breathing exercises can have a calming effect on the mind, improving physical health 7.

By acknowledging and embracing the mind-body connection, it is possible to promote overall physical and emotional well-being. Incorporating mindful movement activities into daily routines further strengthens this connection, facilitating a more harmonious mind-body connection.

Qigong and Tai Chi

Both Qigong and Tai Chi are both ancient Chinese exercises that facilitate mind-body connection through movement. In Chinese, Qigong means “to cultivate or enhance the inherent functional (energetic) essence of the human being”. Qigong focuses on cultivating the existing human essence. Tai Chi directly translates as “Grand Ultimate”. This translation highlights the overarching philosophy of developing connection and integration of phenomena united in their mutual dependence; light and dark, stillness and movement and, of course, body and mind 8.

Through meditative postures, regulation of breathing and coordination of body and mind, these exercises emphasise self-awareness and self-correction. Furthermore, they foster the body’s natural capacity for healing through movement.

The gentle flowing motions of both practices increase flexibility, improve balance and allow individuals to be respectful and compassionate toward their bodies. These exercises also release tension, stress and stagnant energy. The focused attention required during Qigong and Tai Chi quietens the mind and introduces a state of calm and mental clarity 9.

Implementing Mindful Movement

Mindful movement exercises are powerful approaches to wellbeing that foster and promote increased levels of physical and mental health. By engaging in these activities and incorporating them into our daily routine, we can experience increased energy, improved mood and a greater sense of joy and peace.

Each and every individual can develop mindful movement practices that work best for their lives. Regardless of the exercise, the combination of thought and movement is transformative.


1. Nelson, Kate. “Yoga, Tai Chi, and Meditation Provide Relief for Veterans with Chronic Pain and PTSD.” Verywell Mind, January 18, 2023.
2. CDC. “Benefits of Physical Activity.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, June 16, 2022.,activity%20gain%20some%20health%20benefits.
3. Fulghum Bruce, Debra. “Exercise and Depression: Endorphins, Reducing Stress, and More.” WebMD, April 1, 2022.,similar%20to%20that%20of%20morphine.
4. Clark, Dav, Frank Schumann, and Stewart H. Mostofsky. “Mindful Movement and Skilled Attention.” Frontiers, May 9, 2015.
5. Jewell, Cathy. “What Is Mindful Movement?” Sage Nutrition, June 7, 2017.,gardening%2C%20and%20playing%20with%20pets.
6. Littrell J. The mind-body connection: not just a theory anymore. Soc Work Health Care. 2008;46(4):17-37. doi: 10.1300/j010v46n04_02. PMID: 18589562.
7. WebMD. “How Stress Affects Your Health.” WebMD, November 9, 2022.’re%20constantly%20under,problems%20with%20sex%20and%20sleep.&text=Stress%20can%20also%20lead%20to,forms%20of%20anxiety%20and%20worry.
8. Jahnke R, Larkey L, Rogers C, Etnier J, Lin F. A comprehensive review of health benefits of qigong and tai chi. Am J Health Promot. 2010 Jul-Aug;24(6):e1-e25. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.081013-LIT-248. PMID: 20594090; PMCID: PMC3085832.
9. Jahnke R, Larkey L, Rogers C, Etnier J, Lin F. A comprehensive review of health benefits of qigong and tai chi. Am J Health Promot. 2010 Jul-Aug;24(6):e1-e25. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.081013-LIT-248. PMID: 20594090; PMCID: PMC3085832.