Why You Might Not Be Getting the Most Out of Your Movement Session and How You Can Change It!
A few simple tweaks can change the way you take class; and help you get the results you want so much faster. Try some of these easy refinements next time you’re in a yoga or Pilates class and notice the difference in your mind and body.
1. Are you listening? If you do not hear what your instructor says, you won’t get the most out of the workout. Text messages, kids schedules, and never ending to do lists, make it easy to zone out in class. Mind body classes are designed to be moving meditations, so flow with your breath and focus on the words coming out of your instructor’s mouth, instead of the chatter in your brain.
2. Are you resistant? We can all be a little bit controlling. We often come in to class with our own agenda or idea of what we want it to be. If you don’t follow the class tempo, it’s likely you are giving up before getting the most out of the exercise. Sometimes movements are fast and other times, you need to pause and hold certain poses. Every instruction from the teacher is done with intention so allow yourself to go with it and see how it feels in your body. If you still have a pose you’re dying to do or need to practice, stay after class has ended and then work on your headstand, etc.
3. Is your mind in your muscle? When you’re in a class, you need to visualize the muscles inside your body. Imagine the way each body part moves and really concentrate on engaging your muscles in every postition. If your focus is on other tasks, or your eyes just wander aimlessly around the room, your muscles aren’t fully activated. You also won’t get the results you want; and you’re opening yourself up to injury. If you pay attention to your body, it WILL tell you what you need and respond fully.
4. Are you fatiguing your muscles? There will be many different sensations during your workout/practice. Learning to distinguish between discomfort and pain will make a huge difference in what kind of results your session will produce. Working a muscle to fatigue can often cause shaking and an intense burn within the muscle, which is normal and necessary to break down the fibers and rebuild the muscle bigger and stronger. Pain, on the other hand, is usually a sharp or achy feeling and typically occurs in a joint like your knee or hip. Both pain and discomfort can be highly uncomfortable. Pay attention to the feeling, check your form and be honest with yourself: are you truly going to injure yourself or are you copping out early? If you can breathe past the discomfort, then embrace the burn, it is what changes you!
5. Are you BREATHING?! The most important aspect really is your breathing. Just like fire, your body needs oxygen to grow. Holding your breath will not only make you dizzy; but it will deplete your muscles of life. Lack of oxygen increases the likelihood of cramps, soreness, injury and making your workout overall more challenging in a BAD way. Open up your lungs with a deep, slow inhalation and full, long exhalation, in and out through the nose in yoga, and in through the nose, out through the mouth in Pilates.
Being mindful of the small details of your practice can enhance it sevenfold. In what little ways have you changed your practice for the better?
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is the star of over 100 videos, a contributing editor at Health Magazine and a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. Kristin also appears frequently on television. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!