A workout for the sole purpose of physical exercise can only have limited health benefits. It can help you stay fit to some level and boost your serotonin levels to some points.
But, when you add mindfulness into your workout, it becomes the secret ingredient to overall well-being, including physical and mental health.
Before we move on to the positive effect of mindfulness on your workout, let's explain what a mindful workout is.
A mindful workout is part of the holistic approach to physical activities. It helps you understand better what is happening in your body and utilize the knowledge to improve your physical and mental strength.
A mindful workout is most commonly in nature, it helps you use all senses, by leaving your headphones at home. You become aware of every breath and the sensations in your body while doing different movements.
Mindfulness during a workout also includes being present in the moment and aware of your thoughts, potential discomfort, and the sensations in your feet while they touch the ground. It helps you truly experience every second of your workout and get the most out of it.
Let's take mindful running, for example, to describe the benefits of mindful workouts.
By being concentrated on your mind and body, mindfulness reduces external distractions. Therefore, you are more relaxed, without thinking about your speed, distance, personal records, etc.
By maintaining internal focus, you are ready to overcome your limitations. But, because you are focused on the sensations in your body, the injuries are less likely to happen. You'll notice the signs of discomfort and expand your limitations.
The first thing to remember when practicing mindful workouts is to breathe through your nose. Mouth breathing is part of the stress-induced changes in your breathing, so nose breathing helps you relax and get into the right mood.
Mindfulness is all about the mind-body connection, so try to keep the inner conversation with your body. Let go of the social expectations and social distractions, timings, tracking devices, points, or anything similar, which can shift your focus from internal feelings to external activities and objects. Don't measure time and think about the technique.
Before you start your workout, prepare for the mindful experience. Do a quick meditation to get out of the state of stress and prepare for the next activity. Five or ten minutes of deep breathing and mindfulness exercises will be enough to get you in the right state of mind for your workout.
Once you've done the prep work, it is time to engage your focus on your sensations and mind. Start slowly and listen to your body to adjust your pace. Check for the physical sensations as you speedup or slow down.
If your health and breath rate speed up, feel the warming up in your body, the heart beating in your chest, experience every sensation in your muscle.
Maintain that state of mind and internal focus, but try not to think about the sensations, just feel them.
Once you maintain the awareness of bodily sensations, focus on your mind. Stop replaying situations and scenarios in your head, and use running (or any other workout) as a time to express gratitude for your physical health.
If you feel like your thoughts are getting out of control, focus on breathing. It will help you calm down in an instant and gain control over your mindful workout.
Don't think about the end line, feel every step and movement. Slowly, you'll increase your abilities and enjoy your workouts more!