Do you not only want to exercise because it’s good for your health, but for your energy and happiness? To feel that joy and satisfaction from moving your body, you need mindfulness to help you truly appreciate how it makes your body feel.
It might be quite trendy to attend a yoga studio with your friends, but the discipline has been practiced for 5,000 years. Yoga was originally a spiritual practice focused on creating harmony between the mind and the body. Nowadays, we are well aware of its benefits.
You will get better sleep – With yoga you are more likely to regulate your breathing inducing relaxation. You also focus on exercises your body needs, which can help you sleep much better over time.
It helps to reduce your anxiety – You may also notice that you start to enjoy yoga more, and do forms of movement that reduce your anxiety.
You get better strength and flexibility – Exercise is going to help a lot with your strength and flexibility, but yoga has an interesting effect when you follow your body’s cues. You enjoy how it feels, as opposed to how it looks.
How to Practice Yoga with Mindfulness
To practice yoga with mindfulness, you need to be aware of your breath, body, and surroundings. By being mindful you tune into the pace of your breath, which in turn calms the body and the mind. You also become more aware of your physical space.
1. Choose your yoga practice.
It can be easy to just get used to a certain routine, and not think much about it. But with mindfulness, you are much more in tune with your body and your mindset, so you become aware of your limitations and strengths. First, ask your doctor if yoga is right for you. If you are a beginner or know that you’re inflexible, look for the gentler forms of yoga. Attempt to avoid more demanding forms like bikram (hot), ashtanga and power yoga. Second, to practice yoga with mindfulness you should speak to your instructor about any physical limitations to accommodate your needs.
2. Try a gentle warm up
You should also be mindful of your warm-up routine. Try to set aside ten minutes of gentle movements. By warming up to practice yoga with mindfulness, you will stretch your muscles and improve your circulation as you build up your poses.
3. Know your limitations.
Listen to your body. One of the best ways to know your limitations is by running a full body scan. Your body tells you how it feels throughout the day, but if you aren’t paying attention, you will never notice. This is where the full body scan comes in. You become aware of any pains or aches. You learn about your strengths and vulnerabilities.
Start your body scan at the top of your head. Pay attention to each part of your head, face, neck, and shoulders, then work your way down. You want to try to feel each body part as you mentally move down your arms, wrists and hands, your chest, back and torso, your legs, and all the way down to your feet.
Once you are aware focus on your own progress when you practice yoga. If a yoga pose doesn’t feel right or hurts then stop. You should master basic poses first and move on to more difficult ones when your body and mind are ready.
4. Keep an exercise journal
You can start a journal that becomes a list of exercises to do, and others to avoid. Every time you try a new exercise, or discover something new about a workout, write it down in your journal. Write down as many details as you can, including the type of exercise, the environment (like in a gym or outside), who you did the exercise with, the duration, and how you felt afterward. If you didn’t like it, write that down. Don’t try to change your feelings about the exercise. Just notice how you feel in the moment.