Each year, millions of people make resolutions to eat better, exercise more and to overall enjoy their lives to the fullest. If New Year’s resolutions are any indication, then most of us have a strong desire to increase our well-being, vitality and awareness. The benefits of exercise are highly purported, but the concept of mindfulness, however, is new to many. Mindfulness is defined as the state of being conscious or aware, and its numerous benefits include enhanced concentration and mental clarity, an increase in self-control and emotional intelligence. Mindfulness in combination with a mind/body exercise such as yoga, is a simple yet powerful approach to achieving your goals of increased wellness.
Practicing Mindfulness Throughout Your Day
People interested in cultivating a more balanced life practice mindfulness to help themselves fully experience the present moment and gain better control of their reactions to life’s ups and downs. The practice of mindfulness is simple and accessible to anyone. The only tools you need are time and space in your mind.
As you go about your day, your mind may be preoccupied with a list of things to do, places to go and people to see. It is easy to get caught up in the daily grind without stopping even once to check in with yourself to see how you feel or what you need. There are a few mindfulness exercises you can incorporate throughout your day that will help boost your mood and productivity.
Mornings are the best time of day to practice mindfulness. Doing mindful breathing upon waking is a great way to start the day. To begin, sit in an upright position in bed and breath in and out slowly while focusing on your breath. Each breathing cycle should last for about six seconds, breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. During this practice, let go of your thoughts of what need to get done for the day and just relax.
As your day is getting started it is easy to forget to focus on mindfulness. Not to worry, as there is always an opportunity to take a moment to appreciate the people and things that surround you. To do this is to practice mindful observation. Observe an object in your environment that is natural and beautiful, such as a plant or the clouds in the sky. Allow yourself to be content in exploring the object. Doing so will contribute to your sense of peace and awareness.
Yoga for Physical and Mental Health
One of the most well-known ways to practice mindfulness and exercise simultaneously, is through yoga. Yoga emphasizes discipline, breath control and meditation. People who practice yoga at least a few times a week experience a host of physical benefits such as increased flexibility and muscle tone, improved cardio fitness and even injury prevention.
With all the amazing benefits of practicing yoga, it is no wonder that classes are more widely available all across the country than ever before. Many local communities offer free or low-cost yoga classes for beginners. Taking a free yoga class is a great way to receive guided practice without commitment. Those who already hold a membership with a fitness club can take yoga classes when they are offered. Yoga’s move into the mainstream has even afforded those with internet access a plethora of free yoga videos online.
Sample Mindfulness Schedule
Achieving such a life-changing goal is more realistic when you have a schedule of things to do in place and a checklist to keep yourself accountable. This chart is a sample weekly schedule of how to incorporate exercise and mindfulness into your daily routine with the idea being that the easier it is to make these beneficial activities a part of your day, the easier it will be for you to stick to them. Below is a sample schedule of ways to incorporate mindfulness and movement into your daily routine.
|Time of day||Day 1||Day 2||Day 3||Day 4||Day 5|
|Morning||Morning stretch||Practice mindfulness while brushing your teeth.||Practice mindful awareness as you start up your computer or other device. Focus on appreciating the time and effort it took to create it.||Sit upright, with your eyes closed while focusing on your breath for 5 minutes||Meditate for 10 minutes upon waking|
|Afternoon||Eat lunch away from your desk today.||Step outside from a few minutes to stretch your muscles and rest your eyes.||Go for a walk during your lunch break.||Drop into a lunchtime yoga class.||Practice mindfulness in line at the grocery store.|
|Evening||Practice mindfulness while washing the dishes.||Take a free Yoga class in your community.||Listen to a radio station you wouldn’t normally listen to. Explore the musical composition with an objective mind.||Take notice of three things or people in your life. At the end of the day, make a list of things you appreciate about them.||While doing household chores, pay attention to each action and figure out a way to perform them more efficiently.|