Often in class, especially in my hybrid, morphed version of Pilates/yoga, you will often hear me encouraging students to be non-judgemental, and non-critical of themselves but to also stay very focused and aware of what is going on in their own bodies and minds. I recently read an article online about just this and wanted to share. Thanks to About.com Pilates and Ana Holuba for these 3 great tips that certainly express these same sentiments. I always say “what you think really does matter…not just in yoga, or Pilates, but more importantly, in life.” Hope these tips help you on and off the mat.
1. Get Your Mind on Your Mat (or equipment)
If you begin to compare yourself to others, gently remind yourself be present — to stay on your own mat. (Even if your workout class doesn’t use mats, you know what I mean.) If you are looking around, distracting yourself with how much better, or worse, someone else is doing, you’re wasting your workout. Not only that, you could do yourself actual harm.
What do I mean by harm? When you aren’t focused, you won’t be nearly as strong or effective. In addition, as you know, you can make yourself miserable. Comparing and judging during a workout or at any other time often leads to emotional distress. You’ll also be more prone to injury because you won’t be giving yourself your full attention.
Another important point is that you might be unintentionally insulting other people by being in their business instead of your own. Switch roles for a minute. You wouldn’t want other people to be judging you while you are just trying to get healthy and feel good. The wisdom of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” stands out here.
2. Find Your Body, Your Breath
After reminding yourself to become present, get back in your body. Feel your breath, your muscles, and your intention for health. Focus within, and forgive yourself by letting go of all self-judgment about how fit (or unfit) you feel in this moment. This is the body you have, and the life you have. Do your best to simply accept it as it is in the moment. This is your inner workout, and it’s just as important (if not more so) than your physical one.
While letting go, breathe OUT. Exhale your frustration or dissatisfaction with your body, your ideas of beauty, your worthiness and the whole garbage bag of “stuff” that’s bothering you. Offer it to the goodness of Life/Love/Your Higher Power — whatever works for you. The more you let any pain and suffering out of your mind and body, the more health you will have. Guaranteed.
3. Enjoy the Moment
As you continue to breathe, begin focusing on your inhale as well as your exhale. Breathe good life force IN. Let it feed you. Try having some fun with the exercise you’re doing, and remind yourself of the famous spiritual teaching, “ENJOY!” If you don’t have a good time with your health, no matter how far you seem to be from your goal, who will?
Discover all over again the reasons why you are committed to your health and well-being. I don’t mean that you need to make a mental list; it’s better to feel it in your muscles, bones. Breathe in the good, enjoy yourself, and enjoy your sweat.
Ana Holub, M.A. is a counselor, forgiveness coach, and communication skills educator. Her soon to be released book is Forgive and Be Free: A Step By Step Guide to Release, Healing and Consciousness (Llewellyn Publishing). Learn more About Ana at anaholub.com.