Bringing Awareness to Your Workout Routine….Not Just During Yoga
Body awareness shouldn’t only happen on your yoga mat.
“Everyone should do other forms of fitness to compliment a regular yoga practice.”
Yes, yoga is traditionally thought of as one of the primary forms of movement (along with martial arts) that heavily preaches the meditative breath and focus elements as the key components to the overall practice.
Thus, when doing a non-yoga workout, it’s somewhat easy to disengage the mind and just go through the motions, since there is not always someone there reminding you throughout class to bring your attention back inward.
For the record, I love yoga….like a “love it so much I quit my job and started a yoga website” kind of love, but I do fully believe that everyone should do other forms of fitness to compliment a regular yoga practice.
Some people do yoga with weights, some are cyclists, hikers, climbers, runners, crossfitters, gymnasts, etc. Yoga happens to be my preferred form of wellness, and it’s the practice I visit the most by far. But to give your body a change of pace, and to work it in different ways, you need to vary your fitness routine.
So, how do we take the attention and focus we cultivate in yoga, and apply it to our other workouts? Start by considering that it is all connected. Movement is movement, and it all falls under the broad category of what I prefer to call Body Awareness.
Let’s take marathon runners for example. Here’s a group of fitness junkies that strive to hit a very calm Zen state during extreme physical output, even though they are not necessarily “doing yoga”. Their yoga mat is the pavement, and their guru is the guy or gal ahead of them. Their breath control and ability to stay focused is phenomenal…as I supposed it has to be to hit 26.2 miles without busting into tears. They have awesome Body Awareness, they’re just using it in a different way than yogis do on their mat. This same overlap appears in almost every form of exercise, if you look for it.
So instead of labeling an activity as “oh, that’s a yoga move” or “this is a gymnastics stretch”, start to think about what is actually happening inside the body, the positioning of your limbs, the muscles used, and the feeling of your breath…rather than the specific words that we use to identify or describe these things.
“A push-up is just a push-up if you’re only interested in slamming out reps. However, once you quiet the chatter, and focus on the task at hand, it becomes much more of an internal experience.”
I’m a big believer that if you’re moving your body, sweating, and breathing all in one beautiful rhythm, then there’s a good chance that you’re doing something right. Yes, Trikonasana is undoubtedly a yoga term, but at the end of the day, it is still just a word used to describe a position of the body. Every fitness sub-category has its own terminology, and some of them (particularly yoga) run very deep. Although there is definitely a use for them in teaching, it’s more important to look inward and take your own physical inventory when performing any fitness activity. A push-up is just a push-up if you’re only interested in slamming out reps. However, once you quiet the chatter, and focus on the task at hand, it becomes much more of an internal experience.
Athletes of all types are coached, at least to some extent, on controlling their breath to fuel their bodies, and to help control their minds. Yoga just happens to talk about it more prominently than others, and we tend to approach it right away at the beginning of almost every class to stress how important it is….I have yet to go to a yoga class and have the instructor open by saying, “Hey guys, thanks for showing up. Today we’re not really going to worry about all that breathing nonsense.”
One could make the argument that all fitness incorporates some form of “doing yoga” if the practitioner is exercising their breath and mental focus, but there again, we’d get caught up in the labeling process rather than the fact that breath is being used, the muscles engaged, and the mind calmed.
To keep things simple across most forms of exercise: breathe deeply, consciously use your muscles, and keep your mind in the moment. It doesn’t need a name. The feeling will speak for itself.
Be light my friends,