So, you're learning Pilates, or yoga, or Tai Chi, or ________ (insert your own new challenging skill here). The directions from your teacher are to move your arms/legs, draw in your abs, do another movement,*and* breathe, then repeat. What?! How can you possibly complete this new skill that has at least five different parts? Perhaps this is the first time since you were a baby that you've had to figure out how to make your body work/move a particular way.
Here are a few tips I've found helpful in all mind/body exercise systems:
1. Leave the "outside world" at the door. If you bring your world with you when you're trying to connect with your body, well then your body is competing with the rest of your life and will likely lose.
2. Breathe. As cliché as it sounds your controlled, steady, and even breathing helps calm your nervous system, making it easier to focus your mind.
3. Forget Multitasking. The instructor knows you can't check everything at once. Create a short mental checklist for each exercise that you do. For example: Inhale, alignment, legs, Exhale, alignment, relax neck.
Repeat checklist for each repetition.
4. Mastery is a process. The first time, second time, fiftieth time, even the thousandth time you do an exercise it is a practice. We are not the same every day. Learn from your whole body what the exercise reveals to you that day.
5. Exhaustion is not the end goal of every workout. I'll be blunt - pushing yourself during every workout to a place that may put you at risk for injury it too much. Your body also benefits from workouts that focus on alignment, deeper engagement, and even restoration. If you've been using your workouts for stress relief gift your body, mind and spirit with a different perspective. Try meditation (sitting or walking), journaling, restorative yoga, or recreational reading for a change.
Give at least one of these tips a try and see if it enhances your next workout.
In Health & Happiness,
When not writing a blog post Krista can be found teaching Pilates, or entertaining her two Pomeranians, or traveling with her husband. You can find her on the Internet at: