Virgin Active blog
Can exercise be meditation?
In our fast and super-charged world, we don’t have much time to slow down and think. Everything seems to be go, go, go and exercise can easily fall onto a tick-list of to-dos without much thought about what you’re doing and why it’s important.
Meditation is a useful skill that teaches us to bring our awareness to the present moment. It’s been shown to have proven benefits on both your physical and mental wellbeing. So, what would happen if you combined working towards your fitness goals and meditation? Is it possible to combine the two?
Let’s see how exercise can be used as meditation…
Why is meditation important?
Meditation is an ancient practice used to make you aware of the present moment and enables you to become fully centred in it. Think about it: how many times a day are you fully present in what you’re doing? Not too many, right?
Meditation might not seem important. But, it is and it can make your life a lot easier too! You’ll be able to manage any potentially harmful effects of living with too much stress and you may also find that meditation helps to regulate your emotions too.
Meditation can help you:
- Relieve stress
- Develop skills to manage stress in the future
- Increase your self-awareness
- Learn patience
- Create feelings of gratitude and calmness
How to use exercise
It’s important to remember that not all exercise can be classed as meditation so for the best benefits, you’ll need to approach your workouts intentionally. By exercising in a way that is mindful, you’re helping to calm your body and mind. Sounds good, but how do you do it?
Well, if you’re new to meditation and moving mindfully, you might want to start with just part of your workout being focused on meditation. Perhaps try at the beginning, or at the end.
Start with just 10 minutes without any distractions. Whether you’re lifting weights, running on a treadmill or taking some time to spin out your legs on the bike, focus on yourself and your surroundings. Here’s how you might start:
- Tune into your mind. How are you feeling today? What emotions are present in your body at this time? Don’t try to change anything. Just notice how you feel.
- Tune into your breath. How does your breathing feel? Can you move your body in a rhythm that matches your breathing?
- Tune into your surroundings. How does it feel to be moving in this way? Can you feel the ground beneath your feet, the weight in your hands, the way your body is moving? What sounds and sights are around you? Take them in, without judgment. Just observe.
- Tune into your needs. How is your movement feeling today? Are you pushing yourself too much or too little? How might you need to adjust? What is your body asking for?
Beginning with these 4 simple questions can help you to bring your mind to the present moment. Forget about to-do lists and what you’re having for dinner tonight. Exercise is time for you, so make it count.
When is exercise not mindful?
But does this mean that all exercise is mindful? Well, if you tune into your body, cut out distractions and remain present, then yes. But, when you’re lost in music or pushing for a personal best and that’s all you can think of, then it might not be. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If that’s what you want to work on and that’s what your body is asking for, then go for it.
You may also only choose certain portions of your exercise or certain types of workouts to be your moments of peace and meditation. The great thing about exercise is that, whether you’re using it as meditation or not, it will have a positive impact on your body and mind. Will you give it a try?
Ready for your next workout? Check out all the group exercise classes available at Virgin Active.