For the most part, people want to be distracted during their workouts. There are TVs in front of the treadmills at every gym, never-ending high-energy playlists and captivating podcasts, and about a billion different things to do on your phone. With that being said, maybe the one thing your fitness routine is missing is a little mindfulness.
Being mindful during your workouts is scary. You feel every heart beat and hear your breath as you’re whipping out all those jump squats, and there’s no taking breaks between sets to catch up on your texts. But that mindfulness not only improves your sweat sessions, but also gives you a mental boost too, letting you feel those post-workout endorphins in a totally new way. Here’s exactly how to start, according to the pros.
7 simple ways to be more mindful during your workouts
1. Cue airplane mode
“Turn your phone on airplane mode so you’re not distracted during your workout with outside demands during your self-care time.” —Koya Webb, yoga teacher, holistic health coach, and founder of Get Loved Up
2. Disconnect to connect
“Putting your headphones on and playing your favorite music, audio book, or podcast can be a great way to multi-task, entertain, or motivate yourself to keep moving. The down side is that you’ll likely miss many details of physical experience. Movement is a wonderful opportunity to get out of your head and into your body, and disconnecting from your devices allows you to feel all the changing sensations of body, breath, and mind as you move. You might be surprised how challenging—yet beneficial—this practice can be.” —Steven Leonard, Functional Meditation and Movement Educator at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health
3. Mentally release your to-do list.
“Right before I begin a workout, I release any pending items on my mental to-do list. This helps free up mental capacity to focus on my body while I workout. When something arises in the midst of a workout, acknowledge it and affirm you will address it after class.” —Cristin Smith, founder and spiritual director at Saffron & Sage
4. Zone in on your heart rate
“Practice breath-work and check in with your breathing and heart rate before and throughout your practice. Knowing your target heart rate will help you make sure your workout is effective over time.” —Koya Webb
5. Continually check in
“Check in with yourself as you engage in different exercises and movements to see how it feels in your body. Avoid going through the motions or copying an instructor. Instead adapt to their instruction to serve your body and prevent injury.” —Cristin Smith
6. Clarify your intention
“The more clear you are about why you exercise, the more obvious all the details become. Are you working out to feel better, look better, relieve stress, engage with community, or some combination of all these intentions? If you want to increase strength, that might mean balancing your yoga practice with some weights. If you’re wanting to develop more ease in your muscles and joints, you might take gentle yoga class or try some tai chi. Be aware of the experience when your movements are aligned with your intentions, or not.” —Steven Leonard
7. Focus on your breath
“Breath is so important to any workout, and like so many others, I have a tendency to hold my breath when working out or to breathe shallowly from my chest. It’s important to bring attention back to the breath to get the most out of your workout.” —Cristin Smith
For more mindfulness tips, check out these techniques every perfectionist needs in their back pocket and find out why reading is the ultimate mindfulness practice for the restless.
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