We have all seen the reels of slim, toned and tanned goddesses on our social media feed. There is no denying we are living in the modern age where body image pressure from mass media is causing a body-shaming pandemic.
Spiralling from destructive negative self-talk that lowers our self-esteem, diminishes our self-confidence and does nothing for our overall health and well-being. This is where it needs to stop.
Building a healthy relationship with ourselves starts with bringing some positive awareness back to our bodies. Developing a mindful fitness routine can be a great place to start on this nourishing journey to a more positive mindset, one filled with self-discovery and self-development.
Discovering how true mindful fitness is a wellness perspective.
We aren’t talking about taking up a heavy weights session at your local gym followed by miles of pounding the pavement as a part of your daily cardio routine. We are talking about building a balanced fitness routine that not only nourishes your body but also your mind. This routine is going to look different for each of us since we all have very different needs. This is an opportunity to begin a self-love journey to discovering what feels right for you and your body.
So, what is this idea of self-love and how can you incorporate it into your fitness regime? Sure, self-love might look like long walks along the beach, big foaming bubble baths or restorative Yin yoga classes but ultimately self-love is all mental. It’s about learning to hold a high regard for your own well-being and happiness, conquering those inner demons and shatter that demoralising negative self-talk.
A great starting place for a mindful fitness routine might be experimenting with a style of yoga and meditation practice that is in line with your personal goals. The practise of yoga is built on ancient teachings surrounding the steps to attaining a more meaningful and purposeful life. Even today these same philosophies are intertwined in many of the forms of yoga and meditation available to you. These teachings give us the tools for self-observation and reflection, and ultimately help us draw an awareness to our bodies. In having an opportunity to pay attention to this internal dialogue on a regular basis allows us to reconnect and identify what is really important to us.
The breath is a big element to the practice of yoga and it is also a very simple tool that can help us to reconnect. By turning our attention inward to the breath, you learn how to exchange a much greater quality of air which helps to oxygenate your blood, nourishing every cell and ultimately soothing the nervous system. Reducing stress, releasing physical tension, improving cognitive brain function, lowering blood pressure and shifting that negative state of mind. The act of learning some of the conscious breathing techniques often used in yoga means that you can take this same mindfulness tool and incorporate it into your everyday life. No longer will sitting in traffic seem so stressful when you can move through a few meditative rounds of the Ujjayi breath.
In combination with this mental journey establishing a regular yoga practice can also enhance your overall fitness, flexibility and strength and it can be an excellent springboard for those either starting a fitness routine for the first time or returning after an injury. Through this mindful movement, you will learn how to align your body with what feels good for you, with compassion and intelligence of how your body works. Many people who incorporate yoga into their fitness routine report that they see weight loss, an overall toning of the body, better posture, reduced pain in the joints and most importantly a deeper appreciation of simply ‘being.’
From this place of ultimate mind and body practice, it is possible to incorporate these same mindfulness tools into many other forms of fitness. This might mean looking deeper into what our bodies love, a style of exercise that makes your heart sing. Perhaps for you, this could look like the upbeat vibes of a weekly Zumba class or maybe long-distance beach runs is where you shine? As for the breath, learning conscious breathing techniques has proven extremely useful in weightlifting as well as HIIT training and running. Learning to control this vital energy can result in far bigger gains and a new ability to exceed personal bests.
No matter what style of exercise you include in your fitness regime, whether you are a weightlifter, jogger, gymnast, dancer, cyclist or sports fanatic learning some basic mindfulness techniques will not only mentally improve your game but your body will thank you for it too. Whilst we all want to see physical results from fitness, learning to listen to our bodies first is far more important in the long term. It opens doors into a deeper connection to our body’s abilities, as well as recognising when it is time to take a break to avoid possible injury.
So, let’s take a step away from the clutches of the pressure that mass media burdens us with and feel empowered to look towards fitness where we can incorporate more mindfulness techniques. Finding a mentality that takes us away from the stereotypical benefits of toned abs and lean physiques but instead to set our goals on something far more wholesome and attainable. Moving toward self-awareness and essentially a feeling of enlightenment that will prove far more beneficial to the entire mind and body.