How to Exercise Mindfully

15 Aug

Recently, I wrote about 5 Simple Tips to Call Up Mindfulness Every Day [LINK: Blog Article]. Mindfulness is an important aspect of the Ayurvedic lifestyle, because when we integrate the aspects of focus and presence into everything we do on a daily basis, life becomes a blissful experience!

There is no doubt that exercise is a powerful way to access bliss… however, exercising mindfully as opposed to plodding along on a treadmill hour after hour will make a big difference.

Here is how to stay present to get the most out of your movement routine.

Mindful Muscle Activation

When you activate your muscles, you activate your mind. Whether you’re walking on the treadmill, sweating it out on the elliptical or going for a brisk walk around your neighborhood, you’re stimulating your cardio vascular system and doing your body good.

There is a difference between going through your exercise routine on autopilot and staying fully present as you work. People that dance, for instance, have to be mindful of what’s going on with each step (no one wants to be the dance partner that clobbers another person’s toes!).

The beautiful thing about exercise is that even though you’re executing an activity that gets your heart pumping, you’re actually shifting your mind from the fast lane of life to the slow lane. That is, you’re becoming more present, more focused and more centered.

When we’re in the “slow lane,” life is more sensual. It’s more vibrant and more fulfilling, because we’re truly experiencing the world (I wrote more about the slow lane recently, read it here [LINK: 5 Simple Practices to Call Up Mindfulness Every Day]).

In your exercise routine, follow this sequence to help guide your mind into the slow lane even as you elevate your heart rate…

Be clear about what you’re trying to accomplish with your workout. Are you feeling emotionally stuck and you want to get your juices flowing? Are you trying to break through a limitation, psychological or physical? Whatever your purpose, get clear on what it is, and say to yourself, “Today, I’m paying attention to my objective.”

Do a simple warm up. It should be at least five minutes to help your body transition into “workout mode.” After those first five minutes, you can settle into a nice, fluid rhythm, making sure to pay attention to what’s going on from the tips of your toes to the top of your head. Adjust according to what your body needs and wants that day.

Challenge yourself! All workouts are better when you push yourself just enough that it’s challenging. Do more reps, or longer time, or more weight than you normally would, and you’ll see great results.

Have a cool-down period. During the cool-down, ask yourself these questions: “How does my body feel? How do my muscles feel now that I’ve worked out? Did the challenge make me feel tighter, or more breathless?” Notice what’s going on for your body.

Take some quiet time. After a workout, give yourself the gift of space and quiet time. Pay attention to how you feel immediately after you complete the workout – my guess is that you’ll feel better than you did before!

Exercising mindfully can be one of the most invigorating physical experiences on a day-to-day basis. How do you like to exercise, and do you see how mindfulness can increase the pleasure in your experience? Leave a comment in the area below to join the conversation.

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