The feel-good benefits of a sweaty workout aren’t exactly a secret! Let’s be honest, they’re a big reason you set the alarm before work to fit in a loop of your favourite running trail. They’re why you head over to spin class even after a long day’s work.
Exercise is the ultimate life-giving energy boost! Happy endorphin neurotransmitters are released as you challenge yourself — reducing stress, increasing your self-confidence and boosting your brainpower. Those few minutes after a good sweat have you feeling on top of the world!
Fast forward one hour. Not only is the boost gone, you’re feeling more wiped than before. The short-term endorphin boost is gone and your energy is drained. You reach for that second cup of coffee.
Shouldn’t exercise be giving you life rather than taking it away? What’s missing? One word. Breath. Many of us are too focused on checking our pace, side-tracked by a problem at work or distracted by music pounding through headphones to think about something as mundane as our breath. Perhaps it’s not so mundane.
Consider this: “The mind follows the breath. The body follows the mind.” When you become aware of your strong, steady breath and let it guide and fuel you, you will have your best workout ever. Your body, mind and spirit reap the benefits long after your workout is done!
Here are three ways to use breath to fuel your workout and your life:
1. Set Your Intention
Your intention creates your reality. Take a few moments before you start and remember to breathe. Close your eyes for 30 seconds. Create the intention to breathe fully and with awareness, throughout your workout. Start by aligning the mind and breath and enjoy the ride.
2. Breathe From Your Belly
Take a moment now to try this. Place your right hand on your chest and your left hand on your belly. Breathe naturally for a few breaths. Which hand is rising more. Is it your right or your left? If you’re like most people, it’s your right and you’re a chest-breather. There’s nothing wrong with that. You’ve simply forgotten how to breathe from your belly like you did when you were a baby, when you experienced life playfully and with ease. Practice breathing through your belly as you work out. Extend your tummy on the inhale and let it relax on the exhale. How do you feel?
3. Lay Down, Close Your Eyes & Relax
The last posture in most yoga classes is savasana, where participants lie down and do nothing. It’s considered the most important posture because it integrates the work you’ve just done. After your next workout, set a timer for five to 10 minutes. Lie down on a mat, close your eyes, and give yourself permission to rest. Breathe. Then go forward energized, balanced and grounded and notice the impact on you — and those around you.
Next time you lace up for a workout…
- Leave the pounding playlist at home
- Look at your watch less often
- Pay attention to your breath