“Tune in to your body and be mindful”… a popular cue many Yoga and meditation teachers like to use, but not only. For any form of exercise and for any fitness level you are at the moment – nurturing this “mindful movement” mind-set will add tremendously to the physical experience. In this article I am focusing on water workouts, but before that lets dive in to what “mindful movement” really means.
Mindful movement is a growing trend that is bringing more awareness to many different kinds of fitness routines, enabling you to leave stress and the digital onslaught on the shore. The slower paced, restorative movement style of programs like Yoga, Pilates, Tai-chi, and the like allows you to sustain a more mindful, meditative state while conditioning your body and being aware of your surroundings and your body as you concentrate on each precise motion.
As you focus in the present on how you are moving and concentrate on each position, you can develop a meditative mindset that eliminates worry, distraction and interruptions, leaving just the experience of the strength and beauty of the here and now. Consider and apply this definition of mindfulness from pioneering expert Jon Kabat-Zinn: “Paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”
Mindful Movement in the Water
Mind-body workouts transform easily from land-based to water-immersed thanks to the unique properties of the water, being both soothing and challenging. Water is an ideal environment for building your fitness level. Water’s amazing properties support your body and affect how you exercise. These traits include its viscosity, pressure, drag or resistance, and buoyancy. Experts point out that the pressure of the water can increase your deep chest breathing effort by up to 60%. And moving at an average speed in the water provides 12 to 15 times more resistance than moving at the same speed on land.
Considering the rise in demand for water programs and the need for peace of mind amid today’s noise, I’ve embraced mindfulness in building my professional portfolio, as have many other creative fitness professionals. As you will find out, the innovative aqua workouts I’ve developed fuse exercise with mindfulness, based on my understanding of how to work with water’s properties, your physicality, and the awareness that Mindful Movement adds.
As you think about tailoring Aqua Fitness to your needs, realize that you will get more from these routines if you can set aside any negativity and any previous awkward experiences with exercising. Being in the water is different; it encourages physical competence and positivity. Apply your mindful awareness to sensing the water as a supportive natural environment around you. Embrace its peaceful detachment from your busy day-to-day activities. No cell phone. No intrusions. Aquatic exercise is about fitness, but it is also about restoration, recreation and fun.
Just heed your body and concentrate on the flow, density and supportiveness of the water. Note the balance and details of each position and the buoyancy holding you up, but also notice the breeze, the birdsong and the sunlight reflecting on the surface.
Sense your body in this setting: gravity is gentler; the air seems cooler. Feel the water’s flow and the wetness on your skin; hear the small waves lapping on the edge of the pool; see the blues and greens around you; and sniff the freshness of the air and even the faint chlorine aroma of the pool – maybe it evokes memories of summertime, recreation and freedom. Mindfully live in your body in this place and time. Unite your mind and body; literally soak up the experience.
As with meditation, if your mind wanders from the present, gently bring it back to the moment you are in and the motions you are executing. Mindful movement engages you both mentally and physically, letting you see for yourself that everything about being in the water makes exercise better.
Are you ready to mind your movement in the water with me? Join me for a mindful stretching session using a noodle 😉