May 17, 2014

Setting an intention for your exercise

Setting an intention is a tool I learned in yoga several years ago but carried over to my regular exercise and which I’ve found to work really well for me in terms of making my training sessions more meaningful, enjoyable, satisfying and focused.

I like to keep my intentions behaviour focussed rather than outcome focussed – as our body’s strength, mobility and energy levels can fluctuate day to day, we may not always perform at the level we’d hoped, but the way we think and what we bring our attention to during the session is much more under our control. What’s more, the way the sessions makes us feel mentally is just as important as how we feel physically, so whereas we generally set out exactly what we’re going to do physically when we train, it pays to have a plan mentally as well so that we can ¬†get the most out of our training and come away from our sessions feeling good.

Some examples of intentions that you may find useful to try out:

  • I will try to focus on keeping my breath calm and steady when I am exerting myself
  • I will try to limit negative self-talk and will counter it with positive self-talk when it comes up
  • I will try to focus on the way my muscles feel during each movement
  • I will try to visualise the way my pelvis is sitting in my body as I move
  • I will allow myself to risk not getting something quite right the first time
  • I will allow myself to be a beginner
  • I will challenge myself to explore an exercise I don’t usually enjoy
  • I will listen to my body and stop if I am feeling too tired
  • I will allow myself to feel self conscious but exercise anyway, because it is something I’m doing for myself

Try silently setting one of these, or one of your own, intentions as you’re warming up for your next sessions and see how it affects the way you feel about your training that day. Likewise, setting an intention for yourself can be useful in other challenging situations about which you may not be able to control the outcome (job interview, difficult relationship conversation, etc). By bringing yourself fully to the experience in an intentional way, you can find a positive way to approach any situation and feel calmer in yourself.

I’d love to hear how it works for you!



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