Mindful Movement: 4 Activities That Beat Going To The Gym
Mindful Movement: 4 Activities That Beat Going To The Gym
As the new year takes off gym memberships are going through the roof! Weight loss, improved stamina, enhanced flexibility, and a chiselled six pack are some of the common goals you’ll find on everyone’s New-Year resolution list.
But more often than not, most gym goers end up quitting after a month or two. And quitting the gym can feel like failure, especially if you started the year telling yourself that you’d be pumping iron all the way till December 2021.
Well, it’s not entirely your fault.
The Gym Is Boring
Gymming has been hyped up by the media and the public to the point where going to the gym has become synonymous with good health. In fact, it’s one of the only activities that most people associate with fitness.
And while a regular gym routine can give you that chiselled look you’re going for, this approach to movement leaves a gaping hole in our understanding of the human body.
Gym exercises are monotonous and actually restrict our body’s functionality, offering little opportunity to understand our capabilities.
The drills tend to be repetitive, and beyond a few minor adjustments and variations, there’s not much scope to explore the myriad ways in which your body can move.
This year, we suggest pursuing fitness via a different route - mindful movement.
In short, mindful movement means placing your complete awareness on the movements of your body in conjunction with your breathing.
And sure, you can mindfully lift dumbbells. But it’s difficult for our brain to stay engaged in an activity that can just as easily be performed on autopilot. In fact, it’s a lot easier to focus when there is complexity involved in your movement and the brain can work on trying to figure out the best way to move different parts of your body.
Movement and fitness involves the holy trinity - the mind, body, and soul. And when you’re doing bicep curls at the gym, the monotony makes it tempting to switch off your brain while performing the exercise.
This leads to a disconnect in the trinity, making the movement devoid of any real feeling and depriving your body of the sensation of being alive, which is experienced most vividly through movement.
So for those of you looking for a more wholesome way to stay fit, here are some movement practices which demand the presence of your entire being throughout the activity.
Aside from pushing your physical limits, these activities will give you insights into your capabilities and help shape you into a more integrated human being.
Few movements are as all-encompassing as the art of Breaking. And don’t let the word ‘art’ fool you as Breaking has recently been recognised as an Olympic Sport, giving due credit to the incredible athleticism involved in this dance.
Breaking is (deceptively) a lot safer than it looks as the only instrument used to perform the movements is your body. So by learning the fundamentals of this dance and slowly working your way up, you can stay safe, healthy, and fit.
Breaking is also one of the most fun activities you can engage in as it involves rhythm and creativity, allowing you to tweak your movements based on the music and your own individual ideas.
This allows for infinite possibilities in the range and breadth of the movement, and that’s a type of freedom you won’t find anywhere else.
Mixed martial arts is a hybrid combat sport that combines and incorporates elements and techniques from boxing, grappling, wrestling, jiu jitsu, judo, muay thai, and many other disciplines.
And just like the other forms of movement on this list, MMA is a full-body workout that can be adjusted based on your level of strength, flexibility, and endurance. You start out by learning the basics and move on to the more complicated techniques once you’ve mastered them.
Aside from keeping you fit and improving cardiovascular health, MMA also helps to enhance your agility and reflexes, and improves your reaction time.
It’s also highly-adjustable and once you start improving you can incorporate or eliminate movements to suit the style of fighting that you enjoy.
The ancient Indian yogis figured out the key to optimum health when they invented yoga almost 5000 years ago.
Yoga is the only intense form of exercise that doesn’t cause lactic acid buildup in the muscles, thanks to the constant stream of air passing through the body.
The asanas were designed to stretch, strengthen and mobilise, while releasing the body from physical, mental, and spiritual tensions. Additionally, the exclusive focus on the spine makes your body more supple and quite literally slows down the ageing process by a remarkable rate.
One of the most handy things about yoga is the degree of flexibility it allows with each movement. During a session, the asanas can be adjusted based on your current level of comfort and body awareness on that particular day.
Adding an hour of yoga to your everyday routine can immensely enhance focus, inner strength, and well being, aside from the incredible physiological benefits.
While calisthenics may outwardly seem like a type of exercise exclusively focused on strength, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.
Unlike the other exercises on this list, calisthenic exercises target large muscle groups through movements like pushing, pulling, lifting, and grasping. Aside from muscle development, calisthenics enhances sensation in certain muscles that you’ve probably never had the opportunity to engage or bring awareness to. It also helps to develop the explosive power in your muscles, enhancing performance in any other kind of physical activity you’re engaged in.
This list contains 4 wholesome, structured forms of physical exercise that can be learnt by people of various fitness levels. Each of these movements offers a high degree of flexibility, allowing you to progress at your own pace and build your body gradually.
And the most attractive quality of each movement on this list is the ability to track your progress and set yourself goals that you can work towards.
This makes fitness a team effort where your mind, body, and soul must work in harmony for a successful outcome. And that is a journey that’s both wholesome and extremely exciting!
So, in 2021, let’s make mindful movement a part of our lives. Stay healthy, and here’s to a great year!