By Sarah L. Caracciolo
DHAC Assistant Fitness Director
Whenever I teach a mind/body class I always end with a few moments of rest. I ask people to stay during this rest period for a reason; for completion of the workout. Some may think that a stretch class is not a workout. But it most certainly is an important component of fitness. We spend 90% of our days shortening (flexing) our muscles and filling them with tightness and tension. On our way out of the gym, we glance at the stretch machine, grumble, and hop on it for 3.5 seconds just so our trainers won’t yell at us. We notice, we promise!
If stretching and relaxing the muscles at the end of a workout is so important, why do we think it’s okay to keep the mind full of stress and tension? The mind/body connection is quite powerful and when trained correctly, it can bring a lot of positive energy into your world.
I am never one to script or pre-choreograph what I am going to say to my class at the end of our workout. I feel that can sound too robotic. Instead, I use the energy that we as a group have created in our space. As we lengthen our muscles and increase our blood flow, you can literally feel all the residual negative energy leave the room and allow space for positive energy to replace it.
One thing that we all need to remember is that whatever we have going on in our lives cannot be ignored.
We all have stressors: school, work, kids, bills, etc. If these are the certainties of our lives, why are we constantly running from them or letting them control how we feel? We cannot prevent stress, but we CAN control how we choose to approach it. We workout with the intention of our bodies feeling good, but don’t forget to make your mind feel good as well!
Try standing in the middle of a busy room. This can be work, the gym, a mall, or a Dunkin Donuts at 8am. Try to feel the energy around you. It’s CRAZY! It’s fast, furious, and negative. Did you notice yourself taking in everyone’s stressful negative energy? I sure do!
Now, try standing in that same busy place, two feet rooted to the ground. Hear the noise. Take three deep breaths. Every inhale should be filled with positive energy and every exhale should rid your body of negative energy. By the time you’ve completed these three breaths, the noise has dulled. To others it is still there and still negative. It didn’t go away. You chose to allow your mind to relax and approach the stress with powerful positive energy. This will carry on throughout your day….if you want it to!
The next time you are at the gym, start and end your workout with those same three breaths. This will allow your mind and body to achieve greater things during the next 60- minutes of exercise. Suddenly you are working out for yourself, not for your doctor, not for those lower sized jeans, not for that glory pizza on game-day. It’s all finally for you. The only proper way to end this blog is with a deep breath……and another…..and one more. Namaste.