Open a window. Stand there for a while. Stretch your muscles. Breathe fresh air. Listen to the birds or the rain.
How do you care for yourself? How do you pay attention to your physical body? To your mental and emotional cues? “Mindful fitness” meshes a fitness routine to keep you healthy and strong throughout your life with mindfulness, a meditative practice that provides a foundation for health, happiness and wellbeing.
“Before beginning any exercise, pause and bring awareness to your physical form. Feel your bones, muscles, organs, tissues and even skin,” shares Adam Brady, yoga teacher and martial artist with the Chopra Center for nearly 20 years. “How does your body feel? Do you have pain or discomfort? Are you low on energy? Only after you’ve taken inventory of how you feel… should you proceed with your warm-up or workout.”
Brady agrees that noticing your environment is important—temperature, lighting, odors and other sensory perceptions may influence your mindfulness practice. Consider closing the door, turning off the TV and choosing music that helps maintain a peaceful focus.
The yoga experts know your mind will wander. Your job is to “come back to the present moment, the breath and the exercise” to create a breathing rhythm that “serves as a bridge between your mind, body and soul,” Brady said.
Natural mindful fitness exercises include martial arts, jumping rope, yoga, tai chi, walking or running.
If a gym isn’t available or quite your speed, Integrated Pilates Tacoma suggests finding a safe staircase inside to do cardiovascular and balance work, remembering also to take rest breaks throughout the day so your nervous system can rebalance itself. Even children can participate in a “body scan,” lying on a comfortable surface, closing their eyes, squeezing every muscle in their bodies as tightly as they can, releasing all their muscles to relax a few minutes, and then think about how their bodies felt during the activity.
Pay attention to your body, muscles, pace, breathing, resistance and tension—indoors and out—for a healthier and more mindful you.
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