Mindfulness in motion

Mindfulness in motion

When people think about mindfulness they generally just think of meditation. While meditation is an integral part of mindfulness practice, there’s also the informal part of the practice, where mindfulness is applied to everything we do including the way we exercise or walk.

Being fully present is essential in the world of sports, a profession that has for decades used mindfulness meditation and other mind training tools such as self-hypnosis. When playing any sport, one of the biggest obstacles is usually in your own mind. Mindfulness practice gives you ways to come to terms with inner obstacles and allows you to work on a deeper level.

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Photograph by Dominik Schroder.

The benefits of meditation are not limited to a particular discipline, and athletes who’ve publicly mentioned they made mindfulness a part of their preparation and training for the intense physical work they do include tennis players like Novak Jokovic, several US basketball teams including the Seattle Seahawks (super ball winners 2014) as well as golfer Tiger Woods.

How to bring mindfulness to your workout

  1. Focus on what you’re doing while you’re doing it

    While you exercise, just exercise instead of making your shopping list or rehearsing your next meeting. Bringing your full attention to the muscle groups you’re exercising means really feeling the muscles instead of just thinking about them.  In a yoga class, for example, it can be quite easy for some people to put themselves into a standing posture like Warrior II, while their thigh muscles are not engaged at all. Bringing your full attention to your workout enables you to work at a much deeper level.
  2. Question your limiting beliefs

    When my personal trainer makes me hold a plank for 2 minutes, there comes a moment when my mind says “I cannot possibly do this”, which might be a scenario you can relate to. In this moment you have a choice: you can engage with your limiting beliefs and sure thing it won’t be possible.  Or, you can bring your attention to your breath or focus your gaze on a point in front of you and centre your mind to push beyond your perceived limits. 
  1. Listen to your body’s signals

    If we’re distracted by our thoughts, surroundings or are checking our phones during our workout, we’re almost certainly not in tune with our bodies. As such, we easily miss important signals that a certain posture or movement does not feel right for our body and we risk injury.
  1. Become present by engaging all of your senses

    You can use your workout to become more mindful and present by engaging all of your senses. When running, this means really being aware of every time your feet touch the ground, noticing the different muscle groups involved, feeling the air or sunshine touch your face and hearing the sounds around you.  It can also mean becoming aware of your breath.  In a similar way when you swim, it means becoming aware of each stroke, feeling the water touch your skin and becoming aware of each inhalation and exhalation. 

Doing the #betterin30 challenge? Use the hashtag to tell us how you’re getting on, and you could win a personal session with one of our experts! 

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Palma Michel is our Better in 30 Meditation Coach.  She is the Co-Founder of Profuse29, a company that introduces mindfulness and mindful leadership to companies like London School of Economics and The Soho House Group.  Palma is the author of ‘The Authority Guide To Mindful Leadership’ due to be published in April.

Main photograph by Dominik Schroder. 
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