How often do you take a moment to explore how you are feeling? How are you really feeling? Mentally, physically, emotionally. One of the most important, but often underrated, benefits of exercise is improving the mind/body connection.
We often get so caught up in our busy lives, that we lose sight of the bigger picture. Our bodies are a key component to living a healthier life, but it’s only a part of our entire system. Just as our bodies can impact our mental health, our brains can impact our physical health.
Did you know that you can train your mind, just like you train your body? I give my Yoga students different activities to work on throughout the semester. Below are a few ways that I practice (and teach my students to practice) improving the mind/body connection.
- Practicing Positive Self Talk/Changing the Story You Tell Yourself. I wrote more about this topic here: Stopping the Comparison Game: 5 Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others. Often without thought, we can go into a negative thought pattern. This can occur when we look into a mirror, when we struggle with something we think can be easy, or at other random points during the day. For example, if you have been working out like crazy, and you look into the mirror and think to yourself “Ugh! Why are my thighs so big?” You can practice changing your thought pattern to appreciate your thighs, “I was able to do 2 more Jump Squats during my last workout! My thighs are so strong and they have great endurance.” Practicing positive self talk makes it easier, and it will come more naturally. Just like we improve our physical fitness with practice, we can improve our mental health.
- Meditation: When I first started mediation, during my Yoga Teacher Certification, I really struggled with it. I’m not exaggerating when I say it felt a little bit torturous. It has certainly taken practice, and I am by no means a meditative master. However, I find that meditation helps me to feel more joyful and centered. It’s a time to relax the body, and calm the mind. It also improves self regulation (the ability to choose your responses instead of just reacting to whatever happens).
To me, this is an important life skill that I want to pass on to my son. When meditation is introduced into school systems it has demonstrated significant improvements in the students behaviors. I concentrate on my breathing to help center myself during meditation, or when my mind is going a million miles per minute.
- Focusing on the Physical Body During Exercise: The benefits to this technique are twofold. First, you get better results when you concentrate on the muscles you are working. Sure, when something is hard it feels nice to try to distract our minds from the discomfort, but when we actually think about the muscles we are using you will make faster physical gains.
Second, this will benefit your form, and the mind-body connection. Concentrating on the moment will help draw you into the full experience of what you are doing, and this skill will help you to be more present in your every day life.
I hope you find these techniques helpful. If you have anything to add, please let me know in the comments below.
I hope you enjoy today’s workout!
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Set your Interval Timer for 15 Rounds of 30/50.
Cardio: High Knees or Jump Rope.
*For a LIIT (Low Impact Interval Training) version of this workout complete High Knees Marching for each cardio interval, and do a Plie Squeeze, instead of the Plie Jump.
1. Wood Chopper (right)
2. Wood Chopper (left)
3. Side Lunge Kick (right)
4. Side Lunge Kick (left)
5. Plie Squat Jump
6. Alternating Warrior III/Chair
7. Hip Thrust (right)
8. Hip Thrust (left)
9. Mountain Climber
10. Toe Tap Push-up
11. Plank Crunch
12. Side Plank Hip Lift (right)
13. Side Plank Hip Lift (left)
14. Plank to Dolphin
15. Plank to Lunge