Mindful Fitness 4

(Part 4 in series. See 1, 2, 3, and 5.)

So far, we’ve connected movement with breath, learned to keep our head in the game, and relaxed in the midst of exertion. Now let’s shift perspective. Literally.

We all move through our lives in a certain way, both mentally and physically. We aren’t even aware of it. We are a strange moving conglomeration of genetics, experiences, and whatever other things we incorporate into ourselves along the way. For example, I’m one of those people who always hears “Smile!” from complete strangers in public. I don’t mean to look surly or serious, and I’m usually not aware of it. And, yes, it’s annoying. But getting outside our comfort zone can be just the thing we need.

  • Try something new. Need a rut-buster? Try something totally off the wall. Boxers, give yoga a try. Runners, how about some samba classes? Tai chi, Nia, Pilates, Parkour, Zumba…Chances are, if it has a funny name, it’s something new. Who knows, maybe you’ll have some fun. Check out the class offerings at your local gym or YMCA.
  • Use your non-dominant side. I don’t mean your “feminine” side. I mean, are you right-handed? Then go left. And vice versa for you southpaws. I am extremely right-side dominant, so much so, that I actually can’t use my left hand to play guitar or piano. In my case, I think it’s a genetic, developmental wiring (I see it in my daughter, too). But in an effort at some balance, sometimes during a trail run or climbing steps, I’ll decide to focus on leading with my left foot. This is much harder than it sounds, because your brain doesn’t want you to do this. It wants to go back to coasting in its groove. So you’ll find that about 6 seconds into focusing on your weaker side, you will switch back. But if you can do it long enough, you might even notice a palpable shift in your…for lack of a better word…perspective. It almost feels as though I’m looking out of my less dominant eye, something I can only equate to the weird shit that happens when I’m meditating.
  • Do the opposite. On those days when you just don’t feel like exercising, it might be a sign that exercise is exactly the thing you need. Or maybe you’re jonesing for your third workout of the day, and what you actually need is a book and a couch. I’m going to lay it out: We’ve become a society of enablers. We trust our hearts. We all win “Participant” ribbons. Well, if we always went with the flow, we wouldn’t be eating Paleo/Primal, now would we?
  • Get upside down. Yoga classes often feature upside-down poses, from the mild Downward-Facing Dog to the more challenging Handstand. Hang from the monkey-bars at the park and do some inverted sit-ups while you’re there. Or go to an adult gymnastics class. We spend so much time right-side-up, that it does us good to experience gravity in the other direction, if only for a little while.

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