Mind/body workouts are all the rage right now.
But Eastern societies have long understood the connection between the mind and the body. Tai chi, yoga, belly dance and a variety of martial arts incorporate spiritual elements into physical conditioning.
Make your workout do double duty as a sacred time to reconnect your higher spiritual awareness to your physical body.
1. Take it outside. The simple act of moving your yoga mat outside transforms your practice tremendously! Now that warmer days are on the horizon, take advantage of them.
2. Use soothing music. While many people think fast-paced, turbo-charged music “pumps up” or energizes them during workouts, soothing music actually helps to make difficult postures and movements easier and less strenuous by tuning you to your inner thoughts.
3. Remember that slow, controlled movements are good for the mind and the body. Mind/body workouts tend to use slow, precise muscle control to condition the body. Warrior pose may look easy to the casual observer, but ask him to hold it for five straight minutes and he’ll see just how hard it is! The concentration required to achieve and hold these postures aids meditation, self-control and the sacred connection between the mind and the body.
4. Use your workouts to “un-knot” mental blocks. If you’re feeling tense, frustrated or anxious, use your mind/body workout to work through these feelings. We tend to encourage ourselves to “let go” or forget about our struggles while working out, but it can be just as useful to focus on relieving and healing them.
5. Be creative! Try customizing your own workout, or inventing your own new fusion. Popular workouts like barre and Zumba are really just someone’s creative ways of integrating different disciplines. Maybe you can think of an interesting way to integrate yoga with a martial arts discipline you know–try it, and keep things interesting.
6. Make your workout space a temple. Try using an oil burner to diffuse energizing essential oils like orange and lemon, or light candles to encourage a peaceful state of mind.
7. Don’t just stretch–“check in” with your body. Notice areas of tension, aches and pains that you might not be aware of when you’re distracted by your daily activities. Listen your body; it probably has something to say that you may not be hearing.
8. Try a simple meditation session after your cool down. Grounding and centering is a nice way to transition back into your everyday life.
9. Instead of showering after your workout, try a candlelit bath. Bust out the essential oils and rub your muscles down with a salt scrub. Take the time to treat your body like the temple it is.
10. Make massage a regular part of your fitness program. You may think you can’t afford regular massage, but many malls offer $1 per minute massages, Groupon has specials all the time and most gyms have automated massage chairs at little or no cost to members. If nothing else, trade massages with someone who loves you! It’s a great bonding activity. Massage is a fantastic opportunity to concentrate completely on your body while someone else brings your attention to areas you may often ignore.