Here we are at part 3 of this 4 part Mindfulness for Beginners series! Last week we looked at 4 ways to incorporate mindfulness into your relationships, and before that, actionable steps to bring mindfulness into your eating habits.
Today I will cover 5 tips to bring mindfulness into your movement and exercise.
This may sound counterintuitive for those who would rather be on the couch, however as exercise expert Paige Waehner points out to Verywell.com, bringing mindfulness into your movement has some powerful benefits;
- A stronger connection to your body: When you focus on each exercise, the muscles you’re working, and what you’re actually accomplishing, you get more out of each exercise and each workout.
- Better results: When you focus on your what you’re doing, you improve the quality of your movement and, as a result, the quality of your overall workout.
- More satisfaction: When you know exactly what you’re working, how each exercise feels and whether you’re getting the most out of each exercise, you can end your workout knowing you did your best.
Let’s get into how you can use mindfulness to increase the benefits of however you enjoy moving!
Feel how you feel
Too often we go through the motions of a workout paying zero attention to how our movements feel, which muscles are working, what motions feel good and not so good. Your body gives you instant feedback, if you are willing to listen. This can save you from injury, and get you to your goal quicker by knowing when you’re able to push more, and when to hold back.
Before your workout even begins, notice how you feel. Are you tired? Sore? Restless? These feelings will effect your workout, so if you are in tune with your body you can adjust your session to benefit you best.
Tune into your environment
Fully experience your workout by connecting your body to your environment. Whether you’re walking outdoors, lifting weights in a gym, or doing yoga in a studio, notice the temperature, sounds, even smells. Working out with focus can be a moving meditation, and being aware of what’s around you can enhance your experience.
Take your time
Entering your workout with the mindset of getting through it as quickly as possible doesn’t sound enjoyable or beneficial. Whether it’s your morning walk, mid-week strength training session, or evening yoga class, you’ve set that time aside because movement is important to you.
Allow yourself to be fully in your workout. Fitting movement into your day is a form of self care, and rushing through it or feeling there’re more important things to get to defeats the purpose. When you feel your mind wander to things outside of what you’re physically doing, acknowledge it, and refocus on the movement you are completing.
Remember your intention
Whether you’re moving to train for a race, for relaxation, to rehab an injury, or anything in between, remind yourself of that intention when your energy and focus start to fade. Thinking of all the benefits your chosen exercise will bring to your life, helps when you feel like stopping.
Maybe you’re going to cardio classes to improve your fitness so you can keep up with your kids easier. When you want to slack the last 15 minutes of class, picture playing tag with your family and not needing a break.
End on a positive
Take time to stretch and cool down (or sit a little longer in savasana!) and reflect briefly on your hard work. Relish how it felt to move your body and give full focus to yourself and your goals. Ending a workout with positive feelings makes it easier to to fit it in the next day, and reinforces how movement is crucial for a balanced mind and body.
Stay tuned next week for the last part of this series, Mindfulness in Emotions!