Question: Have you ever started eating a treat, taken two bites then noticed all that was left was the wrapper? Do you spend time analysing past events over and over again, all the while becoming more and more self critical? Well you’re not alone, most people do. With so many conflicting demands on our lives it’s quite easy for our brains to go into autopilot, which results in us not being able to see clearly what is happening around us.
It’s said that we have around 50,000 thoughts a day, so it’s not surprising that we can feel overwhelmed sometimes. This is where mindfulness comes in: it’s the art of being actively aware of the present, or being ‘in the moment’ - of taking control of one’s thoughts.
Fitness First offers a number of classes that not only help you to get fit, but also to achieve mindfulness, in other words a mind and body workout. Perhaps the most obvious one is yoga, which includes meditation and relaxation techniques. Practising Pilates makes you acutely aware of posture and breathing, which keeps you in the present moment. Tai Chi strikes a perfect balance between exercise and relaxation. There’s another of our classes that you should check out – Les Mills BODYBALANCE - it’s a unique mix of yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi. The focus is on controlled breathing with soothing music as you flow through the workout, building flexibility and strength. It’s a challenging 45-minute class that can burn up to 800 calories as well as restore your calm.
There are a number of mind training exercises you can do between fitness sessions to help you achieve mindfulness and build mental strength. According to Danny Penman, author of Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world (well worth a look), mindfulness can be practised anywhere. He says the simplest way is to sit on a straight-backed chair, close your eyes and focus on the sensations that your breath makes as it flows into and out of your body. If your mind starts to wander, simply bring your awareness back to your breathing. So take a little me-time - you only need five minutes to relax the mindfulness way.