The first month of the new year is drawing to a close, and for many people that means reassessing goals and resolutions. The resolution that seems to top everyone’s list is to lose weight and get in shape. Gyms and fitness studios have been packed with people trying to make a change and develop healthy habits. However, most will overlook the aspects that makes a workout truly effective, intention and mindfulness. I am someone who has always been active and worked out regularly, so I thought my body was pretty fit. Several years ago when I began taking more barre and yoga classes, I realized just how much I had yet to improve on. The crucial thing that I learned through these classes was body awareness.
Being aware of how you are carrying your body and moving through your exercises is important for maximizing your workout and preventing injury. When more focus is placed on form and movements, it forces you to really stay present and in the moment. It is this presence and intention that truly shapes your body. An instructor once said that “where attention goes, energy flows.” This is something that has always stuck with me and that I imagine throughout my workouts. When you focus on flexing the muscle group that you are working, you recruit more fibers within that muscle. It is this use of the muscles that initiates them to change and strengthen.
Doing a workout in a distracted, haphazard state will certainly get your blood moving, but without being truly present you won’t be reaping the full benefits and may be putting yourself at risk for injury. So, how can you practice mindfulness and take your workout to the next level? Here are some tips that I’ve found work for me:
~ Imagine your energy as a ball of light and focus that light into whatever body part you are working on
~ Set an intention that is broad and attainable
~ Come up with a mantra to repeat during your workout; something simple like “I am strong” or “I am capable” works well
~ Begin your workout with gratitude for your body
Workouts can certainly be fun and social, but the next time you go to exercise, stay present and remember why you are there in the first place; to honor and take care of your beautiful vessel.
How do you use mindfulness in your fitness routine?
Photo: Kathryn Farrugia