The concept of thinking your way through a workout isn’t really new. For the best results (and so you don’t hurt yourself) you should be aware of what your body is doing when you’re in the gym. Mindful workouts that incorporate meditation and high intensity exercise take that awareness to the extreme and force you to take time to think about your body. Plus, meditation and exercise are both supposed to relieve stress. Who doesn’t have a little stress they’d like to be relieved of?
So how do you do a mindful workout? Really, the workout routine you follow can be specific to you, but there are five focused meditations you should do throughout if you want to be fully aware of your body and get all the benefits of meditation.
1. Set your intentions
First things first: decide what you want from this workout. Are you looking to build strength or endurance? Is it leg day? Or maybe you just want to indulge in dessert later without feeling guilty. Think about those intentions and the workout you have laid out before you. Don’t forget to breath deeply.
2. Come back to your breath
After your first high-intensity exercise, you’re probably going to breathing pretty heavy. Take a moment after that first one to come back to your normal breath and focus on where it’s coming from. Did you start breathing from your chest during your exercise? Force yourself to take deep breaths and control them.
3. Assess discomfort
At your next meditation break, take a mental scan of your body and how your muscles are feeling. Does anything hurt? Does it hurt in a good way or is there something you need to change about the exercise you just did? Focus on any discomforts you have right now and how you can change them.
4. Body awareness
You’re nearly done. At this break, take stock of your body again, but this time focus on being aware of anything tense or out of place. Check your posture. Are your shoulders tense or creeping up towards your ears? Is your jaw clenched? Take this time to correct those little things.
5. Stretch and reflect
Once you’re done your full workout, it’s time to look back at the whole thing. Stretch yourself out during this time. Think about the meditations you did throughout your workout in isolation and what you gained from each one. Focus on your breath and body.
Yes, adding meditation to your workout could take up a ton of time you don’t have on a normal day. Try it out on a Saturday when you have two hours to focus on yourself or when you’re particularly stressed. You could also just do the pre-workout and post-workout meditations to save on time. Do what feels right for you, but remember: you should always be mindful of your body throughout a workout so you don’t hurt yourself. Exercise your body and your mind together.