Whether it’s the winter blues kicking in, or just the fast pace of life, many of us start to experience burn out this time of year. If you checked out my last blog, you know that we’ve been talking all things mindfulness and taking a look at why we should use the practice to help us stay motivated.
We now know that mindfulness:
Brings more awareness to your relationship with food
Gives you a deeper understanding of your body
Helps you identify your stressors and how you manage them
So how can we bring this mindful mental state into our everyday lives and workouts? Here are my top 5 picks.
Most people may immediately think of mediation, and this is the number one way of creating mindfulness in your life. All meditation is, is sitting still, eyes closed, focusing on your breath. It’s not as easy as it sounds though. As we sit and breath, thoughts start to creep their way in to our minds and we begin to think about other things like… “Am I doing this right”, “What should I make for dinner”, “I really don’t want to go to work tomorrow, my boss is so annoying” and so on. Mindfulness is catching yourself in whatever thought you are in (not making it right or wrong) and bringing your awareness back to your breath. Then doing it again and again as the thoughts creep in. The more you practice, the more space between thoughts starts to develop. Meditation is a speedy sure fire way to bring mindfulness into your life, but there are other ways as well.
Yoga can help you discover more awareness within your mind and in your body through movement and breath work. Not only does it teach you how to breathe calmly under stress, but it also builds body awareness. Ultimately creating a mindful, synergic connection between your mind and body.
PRETEND YOU'RE A SUPERHERO
I love this mindfulness practice. Pretend your are a badass superhero, and you have your superhero cape. Your cape is made of the most fabulous materials, but it is a bit heavy. Walk around as if this cape was on your back. What happens? Maybe you stand a little taller, are you more aware of what the cape might entangle with as you move around? Not only does pretending like you are wearing a superhero cape have you feeling like a kid again, it also promotes better posture and creates more awareness as to how your body moves in space.
Lay on your back, make sure that you can let yourself completely relax but not fall asleep. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to the parts of your body that are connected to the surface you are laying on. Just notice the weight of your body pressing into the surface below you. Then, take your awareness to your toes, wiggle them, feel your toes. Next, start to make your way up your body. Feeling your feet, your heals, your ankles, calves, knees, all the way up. Stop at any point if you are having a hard time ‘feeling’ any area of your body. Keep honing in your attention until you can feel it, then move on. This practice heightens your awareness within your body. The next time you workout, bring that same practice into your exercises. Feel the ground underneath your feet, or the way your hands grasp the bar. Can you feel your shoulders pull on to your back? Can you experience the feeling of drawing in your abdominals?
Journaling is an accessible way to bring all of the above practices together. Just by writing down your thoughts and experiences builds your mindfulness muscle. It’s easy to reflect and assess how things felt, what worked and what didn’t work. Really, mindfulness is just about bringing awareness to the present moment; writing it all down can give you instant feedback. Reflection guides improvement, and ultimately, mindfulness.
The more you work on these, the easier it gets. Implement these practices into your life; the excuses and complaints you make to avoid accomplishing your goals and new year's resolutions will ultimately fade away.
LEARN MORE: For more from Elyssa, visit her blog here.
ABOUT COACH ELYSSA SWANN
Elyssa Swann has been a dedicated personal fitness & lifestyle coach and health activist since 2002. Her specialization in training focuses on body fat reduction, functional strength training, pre/post injury rehabilitation, and mobility. More recently, she has been working as an enthusiastic yoga instructor. She hopes to continue her passion as a yoga instructor and grow her practice. She believes her personal training background and yoga experience helps her better understand how the body functions. The two complement each other well and provide a balance between strength and focus.
Elyssa’s knowledge in personal training and yoga are not the only things that make her a unique coach; she finds importance in creating personal connections with the people around her. She has a positive, energetic outlook on life and she strives to encourage others to do the same. Her workouts can be tough but are often filled with laughter. She strongly believes that a healthy lifestyle does not solely consist of the physical, but rather a well-rounded connection between mind and body. In her off time, she enjoys traveling, indulging in creative projects, and pursuing the richness that the world has to offer.