There is a stereotypical image that meditation can only be performed sitting cross-legged on the floor, eyes closed and without movement.
Proper breathing is the common denominator in both exercise and meditation. While meditation is all about the breath, these same breathing techniques can be applied to enhance your exercise routine.
When physically active, the muscles warm up, the blood moves more freely and endorphins kick in and make us feel more awake and alive.
Applying these yoga breathing techniques during exercise will help to reduce tension and negative thought processes, which open the mind to new ideas and paths to problem solving.
- Breathing – The flow of energy begins with the breath. Visualize breathing in fresh ideas with fresh air. Exhaling and sweating release toxins and can be utilized to reduce ill will and stress. With each exhale visualize negativity leaving your body. Take yourself to another level of consciousness and let go of the day’s activities by focusing on the breath while you exercise. In this way you can be present with your training and achieve your fitness goals.
- Release – When we feel tension in our muscles we are holding onto something that we don’t want to release. Direct your breath to areas of tension and with your exhale, feel the release of energy. Exercise is known to physically release pent up stress and negative energy and can help us to see things in a different light. Training is about cellular memory, teaching the muscles a certain response in a particular situation. Use positive thinking; it is a powerful training technique.
- Realization – Letting thoughts flow through the mind without controlling them is a form of meditation. Often, we don’t realize what is causing stress or how we are holding onto it. When we exercise, we change our environment, which allows our thoughts to flow more freely and can result in a fresh perspective. This level of awareness helps to distinguish between the answer you may be searching for versus thoughts that may be of no use.
- Focus – Realization brings clarity to our thoughts and helps us to focus to what we are hoping to achieve. Visualization is a strong training tool used by all competitors, not just athletes. Most successful people, whether artists, business executives or well-known personalities were able to ‘see’ what they wanted and found the path they needed to succeed. Whether it’s an upcoming race or a big project at work, being able to visualize the desired outcome strengthens us and brings success.
- Success – Even struggling through a long distance run is a positive experience. Each opportunity teaches the body how to respond during tough times and can make you physically and mentally stronger. Repetitive behavior, from physical movement to mental processing, creates muscle memory to recall for future performances. With these techniques you are reinforcing positive training. The next time you find yourself struggling, your mind will kick in and say, “I’ve been here before, I know what to do, and I will succeed.”
The culmination of meditative work is success. We all succumb to the power of suggestion. Own that power by incorporating positive exercise and training techniques in your daily routine.
Angela Ewari, owner of Running Yogini, is a certified running coach and yoga trainer in Denver, Colorado. Follow Angela on Twitter: http://twitter.com/running_yogini
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