Do you exercise for your mind or for your body? There is a difference and the outcome of sticking to a routine is greatly affected by the way we chose to implement our new healthy habits. Today we are going to talk about mind and body exercises and how the two correlate and strengthen each other. Let’s take a look at 5 mindfulness exercises/ workouts.
I work with women to help them reach the point in their lives where they can feel truly confident, happy in their life, mindful each day and reach their full potential.
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First I want to tell you about me and my mind and body exercise history:
Well to be fair, it was pretty non-existent for far too long.
For the past number of years, I have had this sort of Facebook reputation about not exercising. I have no idea where it really came from, to be honest, but I thought it was funny so pfft whatever, right?
My friends love to post memes about funny exercise jokes on my timeline, which I laugh at hysterically.
My husband once told my newly acquired Lululemons that they can relax, they were now retired and would see no more running in their future. I laughed and still laugh about it every time I put some Lulus on. No harm, no foul, right?
When I decided to start working out daily my kids reacted with “What?!? You? Working out?!?” It’s funny, right?
As you can tell, long goes the notion that I’m not into fitness. In fact, it was said so often even I repeated it, “I’m not into fitness.”
Somewhere deep inside of me, it made me feel guilt and resentment. I had this limiting belief that if I were to work out I would somehow lose this identity everyone formed about me. That loss was somehow a bad thing like losing a piece of me. It wasn’t that my friends thought I was lazy but they sure thought I would never workout.
I have always worked hard and loved labour intensive stuff and the twins kept me running for a few years. But the truth is I never really had a solid workout plan unless I was in physiotherapy.
Here is the kicker, I used to “exercise”, I used to run 2Km every day, bright and early before the world would wake up. I loved it, it was rejuvenating and a wonderful way to wake up and start my day.
This whole running thing started after I had a serious muscle/tendon injury that took months of daily physiotherapy to recover.
Back then, I was working out for my body; I was trying to heal my body so I could get back to doing the tough stuff that often ended up hurting my body because I didn’t keep up with those regular exercise routines.
My first pregnancy ended in the loss of our baby while I was out for a long walk trying to keep fit so that I could have a smooth delivery. Of course, the walking was not the cause but in the back of my mind I beat myself up for it over and over again.
I questioned if I had not gone for that walk that day if I would have lost our child. I had a serious bout of depression and gave up a lot of self-care without even realizing it. (If you have suffered the loss of a child and are struggling please check out my miscarriage post and the 5 symptoms to watch for.)
Once I decided I wanted to heal my body and my mind, my routine changed. It’s something I need for me inside and out! I decided I needed Mind AND Body Exercises, not just one of the two. I changed my health and wellness mindset.
At first, I started a bit too hard and hurt myself, sigh, years out of practice I should have started much slower. If you are just getting into exercising for your mind and your body I recommend starting slow and building yourself up and make sure you stretch first!
5 Mind And Body Exercises
These are 5 mind and body exercises that you can try to help you live in the moment and practice mindfulness. You can try each one separately or if you want to try something extra beneficial, try mixing them together in your daily circuit. More on that later.
Exercises for Mind and Body #1: Walking
Walking is easy to do and requires no special equipment. Walking at least 30 minutes five times a week can help you learn to focus your mind on the moment. Walking helps you gain self-confidence from taking action in your well-being.
In order to get the most out of walking as one of the exercises for mind and body try to be mindful, take in your surroundings and allow yourself to feel contentment. Feel the strength in your body as you take each step, connect your mind to your body. This truly is essential in all mind and body exercises.
Walking is the easiest of all the mind and body exercises, hence it being number one on the list, it can be done anywhere and anytime. You can enjoy it alone, with your family or a friend. You do not need much if anything to do it. Throw on some comfy shoes, grab a water bottle and hit the road!
Mind and Body Exercises #2: Yoga
If you are just starting with a mind and body exercise routine and ready to step it up a notch from walking I recommend Yoga! Honestly, I always pictured yoga as something way out of my league that I would feel silly doing. Now yoga is one of my favourite mind and body exercises to practice.
Changing my mindset to discourage imposter syndrome in my self-care and exercise regime was essential! If you have not tried yoga and suffer from back pain or neck and shoulder pain I totally suggest you give it a try. I love the stretching and the release of tension I feel in my muscles. Again, remember to go slow.
Yoga also reduces stress and puts your mind in a kind of meditative state while you focus on deep breathing which signals your body to relax. Mental focus is strengthened intensely with yoga which is a huge benefit. Yoga requires deep concentration so your mind can’t wander to your worries. You are able to stop overthinking everything and focus on the present.
Do your kids need the benefits of yoga? Check out Cosmic Kids Yoga, it’s fun for the whole family!
Tai Chi is #3 on our list of mind and body exercises!
Recently I started looking into adding Tai Chi into my routine after reading about its stress-reducing factors at the Mayo Clinic. It may seem like a far leap to some, I totally get it, but once you have mastered adding walking and yoga, Tai Chi is an amazing way to add in something new.
Tai Chi is an ancient martial art that was created for self-defence however it links your physical movements to your breathing and is now widely known for its amazing mindfulness exercise qualities.
It forces you to focus on the moment, hello mindfulness! It also helps to increase your flexibility, boost your energy, increase your balance, increase your cardiovascular health, and give you a more restful sleep.
Oh my gosh, if you are part of our newsletter you know how sleep is something that I have struggled with for a long time!
There are over 100 movements so you can spice up your mind and body exercises as often as you like!
My favourite part of Tai Chi is the constant movement and I admit I feel a bit like I could play a role in the Matrix when practicing it, hahaha!
Our #4 Mind And Body Exercises slot goes to Pilates!
I used to think yoga and pilates were one and the same. Man, was I wrong! I actually started out doing a mix of the two without realizing it. Let’s look at what makes them different and what makes yoga and pilates similar too!
How are yoga and pilates different?
Pilates focuses on strengthening your body and your core and lengthening your muscles. Whereas, yoga focuses more so on flexibility and helping joints. This is why I suggest yoga first. It is a great way to warm up your body to get to the next phase of mind and body exercises. The pilates exercises I added in when I first started was pretty extreme for someone who has not practiced an exercise routine before.
How are yoga and pilates similar?
Pilates and yoga require mental concentration so you are focusing on the present moment rather than the stressors in your life. Both are known for reducing neck and back pain. Both of these mind and body exercises can improve flexibility. Both also focus on breathing, just like Tai Chi!
The main benefits of pilates, strengthening muscles and your core while encouraging mindfulness, can help you break free from back pain, tone your body and help you live in the moment.
Last up on our 5 mind and body exercises: Dancing!
I love to dance and I love to get the kids dancing too! When we are having a rough day there is nothing that beats the blues better than blasting the tunes and letting it all out!
I, by no means, am a professional dancer and my children fear the day I chaperon a school dance but the joys and freedoms of all dance are powerful and that is why I suggest you try to dance as our #5 mind and body exercises!
This one does not need to be last on the list of ones you try, in fact, it is one I have practiced all the years I did not have a routine and one I will continue to practice to have some fun and relieve stress.
It can be lighthearted and fun, slow and soothing, creative and empowering. It is all in the eyes of the beholder, or in the flow of the music. Allow yourself to feel the beat and just move.
Dancing is great for cardiovascular health as it increases your heart rate and gets your blood pumping. There are many benefits of dancing and you can dance anywhere and make it fun!
Next time you are stuck at the sink doing dishes, or some other seemingly mundane task, turn on your favourite song and dance it out! Release some stress and increase your happiness!
Mixing our mind and body exercises
I’m not sure about you but I know that when I do something over and over again it gets boring, the satisfaction wears thin and it just does not reap the same rewards. Because of that, I have suggested 5 mind and body exercises that have many different variations and options to give a whirl. It does not mean you need to stop there and it most definitely does not mean to do one until you are bored out of your mind from it!
Let’s look quickly at a few variations for each:
- solo activity
- with family
- with friends
- using ankle and/or wrist weights
- speed walking
- try cross country skiing or snowshoeing in winter.
- Many types of yoga
- Anusara (hatha yoga),
- power yoga,
- hot yoga
- yin yoga
- vinyasa yoga etc
- yoga classes with others
- online yoga
- yoga for the family
- indoor yoga
- outdoor yoga
Tai Chi Variations
- 5 main styles of Tai Chi
- Indoor Tai Chi
- Outdoor Tai Chi (highly recommend)
- solo Tai Chi
- group Tai Chi
- over 100 Tai Chi poses to try
- hundreds of pilates exercises
- solo pilates
- pilates with a friend
- virtual pilates classes
- pilates videos
- various levels of strengthening and toning
- pain relief variations
- family dance party
- private dance lessons
- dancing with significant other
- dance classes
- choreographed dance
- free style dance
- many variations of dance classes and styles
Once you feel like you can tolerate a bit more in your daily mind and body exercises try mixing them up throughout the week.
I suggest trying to work 5 days into your week of exercise, two days of rest per week, which could look something like this:
- Monday: Go for a 30-minute walk
- Tuesday: 30 minutes of yoga
- Wednesday: 30 minutes of Tai Chi
- Thursday: 30 minutes of pilates
- Friday: 30-minute dance party!
Or maybe you want even more out of your daily mind and body exercises. In which case, you could try a 30-minute circuit like this:
- 5 minutes of yoga
- 5 minutes of walking/jogging in place (or around the block)
- 10 minutes of tai chi
- 5 minutes of pilates
- 5 minutes of yoga
The possibilities are endless so get creative and personalize your daily mind and body exercises to make them your own.
Have fun with it and remember to connect your mind and body. Want more self-care ideas? Check out our 27 self-care ideas here!
Take care and chat soon;
Living A Boss Life