Mindfulness studies were done at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where “researchers found that after a group of undergraduates went through a two-week intensive mindfulness training program, their mind-wandering decreased and their working memory capacity improved. They also performed better on a reading comprehension test — a section from the Graduate Record Examination, or G.R.E.”
And if you know a thing or two about meditation – it can be done anywhere. Although the best results may be achieved by following the secular pillars of the practice, including sitting in an upright posture with legs crossed and gaze lowered, you can incorporate mindful meditation into all aspects of your life…including your workout regime.
Because when it comes to clearing your mind and strengthening your body with a Daily Fitness Program, it’s always best to keep your thoughts – and feelings – focused on the exercise at hand. Don’t obsess about the past or futurize about what you have to do later that day.
Make it a moving meditation. Stay purposeful, focused and relaxed (breathe), and BE PRESENT in everything you do.
Last night I met a 22 year old gal who said she starting working out again after taking the last six months off. When I asked why the long sabbatical, she simply responded she was bored with her workouts. I know the feeling. After 32 years of daily workouts, who wouldn’t, right? The key to thwarting boredom is to have your mind supremely focused on the task at hand. Not that easy, you say? It is when you treat your workouts as a moving meditation with exercises attached. If you’re doing the right exercises – and exercising right – you don’t have to workout for hours on end. Keep them short and sweet (as in yesterday’s blog) and stay focused on every movement you make. Or better yet, spice it up my 5 minute fat burning workouts and you’ll have many more exercises for your repertoire. So keep it going and don’t let your mind get the best of you. Enjoy opening your hips and low back with today’s Workout #44 – Frog Legs. My best – Rich
I woke up today with pain in my low back, specifically on my right side. It wasn’t there yesterday so perhaps it occurred during the night, or maybe negative energy or tension came to reside there as a result of stress or something I did yesterday. No matter the cause, I went to the gym this morning and wasn’t able to work it out with my usual stretching so I decided to focus on it with 15 minutes of yoga and meditation when I got home. First I laid on my back and quieted my mind with the meditative breathing technique called Ujjayi Pranayama. In yoga terms (or Sanskrit) it means upwardly victorious or skull shining breath which is a three part yogic breath moving from the low belly into the upper chest and throat. Inhalation and exhalation are done through the nose – with your mouth closed – and the resulting sound is much like the sound of the ocean. Next I hugged my knees into my chest while rounding then elongating my spine which is call Apanasana. All the while I kept with my meditation and Ujjayi breath while sending thoughts of relief specifically to the point of low back pain. Next I slowly rocked back and forth and side to side massaging my low back into the ground. Next I reached for the sides of my feet moving into Happy Baby pose. I also teach this pose in Zoo Yoga from my Yoga Survival Guide as well as Apanasana in Comfort Yoga and Ujjayi Pranayama in the very first lesson, Mountain Pose. Next I straightened my legs best I could while holding onto my big toes – much like Paschimottanasana on your back (also taught in Park Yoga). Next I spread my legs wide into a big V, all the while keeping my spine elongated best I could. Finally I hugged my knees into my chest for another Apanasana, then slowly moved into my final resting pose, Savasana. Viola! No more pain. Although everyone’s body is different with varying degrees of pain, give this sequence a try the next time your low back is bothering you. It just might do the trick. R