Mindfulness. We’ve been seeing this word pop up in conjunction with meditation and self-awareness. In an environment where we tend to put others, work and deadlines before ourselves, mindfulness should be a concept that we latch onto. Taking those few minutes to detach and set a purpose for the day could leave us feeling more focused, less stressed and way more productive. But mindfulness doesn’t end with normal daily activity; mindfulness can be prominent in your workouts — here’s how:

  1. Set an intention: What are you intending to achieve in today’s workout? Is it to add a few more miles to your marathon training? Practice your lifting technique? Nail that free-standing headstand? Whatever it is, set an intention. You don’t have to be a professional athlete to have a focused workout. Taking a few minutes to plan your workout, hone in on the skills that you are going to need to execute and acknowledge the methods you are going to use to produce the desired outcome will make your workout purposeful. Sometimes our daily activities are on auto-pilot; but that shouldn’t carry over into your workouts — which are time for you!
  2. Be full of mind, literally: Acknowledge how you are feeling during the workout. Are you breathing heavy? Are your muscles burning? Are you failing the lift or pose? Draw awareness to these feelings so the mind can reduce the stress and anxiety and bring you back to your workout. As an athlete, anxiety is part of training. Acknowledging when you are feeling stressed in a workout is a good thing because it will help you to refocus your attention and bring you back to the purpose of the workout.
  3. Breath: It sounds so ridiculously simple, yet most of us fail to breath correctly, or at all, during parts of our training. Let the oxygen flow through the blood stream and get into the muscles. It helps to prevent that lactic acid build up (that burning sensation in the muscles) and keeps the heart rate down. When your bring mindfulness to your breath, or lack there of, you can help regulate your breathing to assist in getting you through your workout.

Taking what is seemingly an abstract concept and bringing it into practice for working out — an activity that is meant to de-stress and focus on yourself — can be beneficial not only for your mental training but for your physical training as well. Adopting the mindfulness concept will help to provide a more quality workout and productive training regiment.

Originally published at medium.com