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How to Turn Off Your Brain during Mind-Body Workouts

In a mind-body class, the most productive thing you can do is to turn off your brain, and simply feel the workout, letting yourself flow through it. Avoid passing judgment or grading yourself. This concept is easy and difficult all at the same time. It sounds easy, but is terribly difficult for those of us raised in the Western, competitive, technologically advancing world.

Go inside yourself to achieve an inward focus, and listen to what your body tells you about how far, how fast, or how low you should go. Your body talks to you — you need only listen. You can hear it if you let it talk.

The point of mind-body exercise is not to analyze every muscular move, critique yourself in the mirror, compete with your neighbor, or worry about whether you’re doing it right. Feeling the way your body moves is the ultimate goal. Letting your limbs and muscles move in a way that feels good and can make the difference between a good mind-body workout and an unsuccessful one.

In other group-exercise classes or individual sports like running or cycling, its way too easy to fall into a competitive and judgmental trap. (Picture those step-aerobics classes with everybody moving in unison in front of a mirror.)

You may find yourself peeking out of the corner of your eye at the person next to you to compare how you stack up to his or her movements. Or, if you run, you may start timing your routes or trying to beat your best time or your companion.

Mind-body fitness is about the process, not the outcome or a goal. It is not a means to an end, but simply a means. There is no there, only here. And you can achieve your “here” with your mindful exercise program.

One exception is Pilates-inspired movement, which requires inward focus, but also demands exactness in its movement. A Pilates instructor may correct you if you have your spine or leg placed in a position considered incorrect. Sure, there are modifications and alternatives to movements if you aren’t flexible or strong enough to do a move a particular way. That’s not being “wrong,” just a modification to let you continue.

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