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3 Workouts That Involve Meditation

3 Workouts That Involve Meditation

Let’s face it, workouts are tough. We love the feeling afterwards, but struggle during the actual process. Our brain seems to always be looking for the finish line and therefore we become acutely aware of the strain being put on our bodies.

That feeling has caused me to have a love/hate relationship with exercise for many years. I dreaded having to workout and the mental and physical strain that came along with it, but I loved being healthy and the “high” I would get when it was over with. That was until my friend Anna taught me to change the way I thought about exercise. She helped me incorporate meditation in my workout.

I know, it sounds strange, but it has helped me to be conscious of my body while I’m exercising and truly enjoy my workout. Meditation can be applied to most workouts, but I’m only going to highlight the workouts that I have applied it to.

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Running

Growing up I was a pretty active kid. I participated in just about every sport, and naturally running was something that I did a lot of. I always viewed it as a type of punishment, for instance if the team performed poorly in a game we would be punished by having to run ladders. This framed my view of running as something that wasn’t supposed to be enjoyable. The notion of “runner’s high” was something that largely eluded me, but by changing the way I thought about running I was able to enjoy it.

To incorporate meditation into your running you need the brain to be present in the moment. This means being aware of what the body is feeling, but not needing to immediately address whatever pain it may be feeling and continuing on your run.

Secondly running incorporates rhythmic breathing patterns, be aware of this and try to breathe deep from the abdominal. Lastly, vary the locations of your run. This helps create the sense of a new and exciting experience.

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Swimming

Swimming, with the possible exception of yoga, could be the exercise that is most conducive to a meditative state. Everything from the color blue promoting a sense of calm and depth, to the way the ebb and flow of an ocean tide simulates deep, relaxed breathing. Water has always helped humans achieve a meditative state and it turns out that our favorite water based exercise does too.

If you think about it, swimming mimics many of qualities of basic meditation. Rhythmic and deep breathing helps put the mind at ease and enables it to be aware of the bodies muscle motions. Immersion in water helps the body naturally relax and the strokes used during swimming allow the skeletal muscles to loosen up, which allows the brain to be aware and present to the exercise at hand.

You may saying, yeah that sounds good, but the water makes me cold and therefore unable to relax. For those more cold blooded individuals, picking the right wetsuit will keep your body temperature up.

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Yoga

Clearly the most obvious choice for this list. Many of us think of yoga as a stretching class that is mainly practiced by women, but this misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. Yoga does involve a lot of stretching, but it’s also an incredibly good exercise. Like the other exercises, yoga, especially when done in a class, promotes a sense of awareness of the body and what it is feeling while your muscles work to hold your body in position.

Simultaneously the deep and rhythmic breathing involved allows your mind to focus on maintaining your pose and receive the full benefit of the workout. If you really want to take your meditation to the next level you can do your yoga in the pool. The buoyancy of the water makes it more comfortable and has less impact on your body.

Working out is never going to be completely painless. There is always going to be challenges involved with exercising, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a painful experience. I’ve certainly changed the way I look at working out. Being present and aware of your body while focusing on your breathing and taking a positive approach into your workout can help you achieve a meditative state while working out!

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Featured photo credit: Morguefile via morguefile.com

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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

From Atkins to Paleo to eating gluten-free despite not being one of the rare few people afflicted with celiac disease, fad diets are everywhere. It drives me crazy because I believe these diets do more harm than good. Your body is made up of a variety of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals, and losing weight healthily isn’t possible when you fill your body with unnecessary synthetic plastics, sugars, and powders. There’s no easy button in life.

What you need to do is exercise, which isn’t very appealing to many people. Workouts take work, so there’s already a stigma involved in going to the gym. Starting a healthy workout regimen becomes easier when you make it fun. If you want to live long and prosper, get off the couch and try these methods to turn your workout into a playout.

1. Take the scenic route.

Walking is an easy way to transition to a healthy lifestyle, and it’s free. Not only do you burn calories (check out this calculator for how many calories you burn based on your weight), but you see the world in a different way. Hiking in nature is great if you have access to it, but don’t let living in an urban area deter you from walking.

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Whenever I’m creatively stuck I get my head straight by walking a couple of miles. It’s also how I discover new paths, meet new people, and stumble upon hole-in-the-wall spots I never would have found otherwise. You could drive past the same place every day and never appreciate the beauty, nor even notice it’s there.

2. Distract yourself.

No matter what exercise routine you choose, use the time to meditate. You may wonder how marathon runners are able to put so many miles on their bodies. It’s because the pain from running that you avoid is something they’ve learned to harness to enter a transcendental state. If you’re aware of the benefits of meditation and exercise but don’t have time to do both, you can combine them, killing two birds with one healthy stone.

3. Listen to music or podcasts.

There are few experiences in life more pleasurable than turning up the music and drowning out the world around you. With so many podcasts and music apps available on your smartphone, you can easily find entertainment options perfectly suited to your personal tastes. Never worry what people may think of you when working out;instead, crank up the volume and get lost in your own world. You’ll be in shape before you know it.

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4. Bring a friend.

Some people can’t go anywhere alone. While I highly recommend dining out and seeing a movie in a theater alone, having company while exercising is very helpful. It allows you to pace yourself with someone else, and gives you a coach to motivate and push harder than you may have on your own.

Many exercises are safer when done with a friend, and some sports can only be played with another person. Involving others in your goals can mean the difference between success and failure. Just remember to continue exercising if the other person flakes, or they’ll be in control of your health.

5. Accessorize.

There are accessories that can make exercise easier, and sometimes buying a new toy can add some much-needed fun to your routine. With apps like RunKeeper and Nike+, your smartphone is capable of tracking your vitals and progress. Wrist weights can add a new dimension to your workout, and, if you exercise at night, a headlamp can help you see what’s in front of you so you don’t trip.

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For urban runners and power-walkers, one of the biggest obstacles is other people. It’s difficult to get in your meditative zone and enjoy your music when you constantly have to dodge people. To resolve this vexing issue, Runbell, a startup in Tokyo, has developed the runner’s version of the bicycle bell. With this lightweight brass bell warning people you’re approaching from behind, you’re free to maintain your transcendental state while continuing your workout. Head to their Kickstarter campaign to pledge your support.

6. Compete.

A little healthy competition can motivate you to push yourself further in your workout regimen. There are apps like Zombies, Run! which turns your run into a video game, and MyFitnessPal which allows you to connect with others in the exercise community. Whether you’re directly competing with a friend, an online community, or against your previous self, setting goals is the key to reaching them. Running with no destination can feel like an impossible task, and it’s easy to get distracted.

7. Relax.

The best part about exercising is how much you enjoy the downtime. If you think laying on your couch all day is enjoyable, it has nothing on that hour you spend as a couch potato after a rigorous workout. Jay-Z said it best, “in order to experience joy, you need pain.” The harder you push yourself while exercising, the better you’ll feel when you’re relaxing.

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With that said, don’t relax too much, or it loses the effect. It’s okay to indulge every so often. Treat yourself to some junk food you’re craving, imbibe a drink here and there, and spend a day vegging out on your couch. Staying healthy doesn’t have to be torture. Just turn down when you can and dedicate some time to better the health of your body. You only get one.

Featured photo credit: tpsdave via pixabay.com

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