I personally love working out - for me this is a priority and I make the time every single day for a workout! Although it is never easy, and sometimes I have to push myself through a workout, I actually love how I feel during and especially after a workout - for me the whole experience is like meditation. So it is safe to say that I am amazed at how many people are either totally stressing out about implementing a workout in their daily routine, or how some people go about their workout.
I think that just like with anything else, it is extremely important to be mindful during your workouts. There are many ways to include mindfulness in your workout routine, but I wanted to share my favourite:
- listen to your body - this is huge for me! You should make it a habit to listen to your body prior and during each workout. Do a "body scan" before your workout or during your warm up - how do you feel? are you tired? do you feel any pain or discomfort? Knowing how you and your body feels that particular day will allow you to determine how hard you want to push yourself. I personally never use a pulse watch - I simply always listen to my body and depending on how I feel I will also determine how hard I want to push myself. Each workout is different, each day you feel different, so make a habit to never compare to previous workouts, and instead simply listen to what your body is telling you
- set an intention / purpose - know why you are working out, and what you are trying to achieve with each workout. Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to get fitter, faster, increase your endurance? This will help you focus better, and will increase your motivation
- focus on the workout - I am not a big fan of gyms, but whenever I go to a gym I see people reading a book or magazine, watching TV, checking their mobile, listening to music. If you go in a workout with the intention to do some of these, then you might as well skip the workout! By focusing solely on your workout, it allows you to perform each exercise correctly, with the correct posture in order to achieve the maximum results........anything else is a distraction and waste of your time
- take your time - don't go to a workout just to get it out of the way. Take your time to properly warm up, to do each exercise and at the end to properly stretch. Each one is important, and in order to achieve maximum results it is essential that you take your time with each exercise
- acknowledge your environment - whether you are out or indoors, take a few minutes to look around. This will help you reset your focus and relax your mind
- find the mix of workout that is right for you and your lifestyle - I personally don't believe in pushing yourself through workouts that you absolutely hate. Instead find a good mix of workouts that you enjoy - this way you will stay highly motivated and because you are enjoying what you are doing you will also achieve maximum results while you are keeping your mind focused on the workout (and not how miserable you are during your workout!)
- focus on your breath - a lot of times during some exercises we tend to forget to breath, or hold our breath. Instead when you do an exercise focus on your breath - create a pattern of when you inhale and when you exhale along the exercise. This is a great way to be mindful and focus on the moment right now, as you are breathing right in this moment.....not in the past and not in the future
- focus on your posture - having the right posture during an exercise helps you perform the exercise better, get the best results and helps you avoid injuries
- never skip the stretching routine at the end of a workout - stretching is just as important as the warm up or the actual workout. You can use the opportunity to do another "body scan" during stretching. Take your time for each stretching exercise and feel how that particular muscle is stretching, acknowledge how you and your body feels right now
The whole idea of including mindfulness in your workouts is very simple, it is all about being present right in this moment! Some of the advantages of implementing mindfulness during your workouts, are:
- less injuries - because you actually take the time to listen to your body and how you feel, you will be less likely to push yourself through a workout if you are having pain or not feeling well! By knowing your body, you can decide whether you want to push through a workout or whether you should take it easier!
- better results - because you are fully concentrated and focused on each exercise, the chances are that your posture is correct and you are performing the exercises more effectively rather than just going through the motion
- more determination - because you see the effect each workout has on your overall wellbeing, you will be more determined to keep working out, to keep improving, etc
Of course there will be times when you have to settle for a short workout, or you won't be able to implement all of the above listed points. But at least give it a try and see how much better your workout will be by implementing the points listed above. We are all different, so what works for me, might not work for you.......that's why I am challenging you to find what are the things that help you bring mindfulness into your workout