We were honoured when we were asked to come on CTV Live Vancouver and talk about mindfulness in exercise. When you think of yourself as more than just a physical body, you explore the many layers that make you a whole person. Your mind, your body and your soul all have a role to play, synergistically.
Similarly, a yoga and fitness challenge involves more than just your physical body. Approaching a challenge holistically means involving your body, mind and soul in your goals, intentions, actions and awareness. Preparing your whole person for a challenge, not just your body, will ensure a more complete result and a little self discovery along the way. Here are 10 ways to involve all the layers of yourself when prepping for a challenge:
1.Set your intention EACH DAY because, well, moods change. On the morning of each of the 31 day challenge, decide how you desire to feel and manifest that feeling specifically for that day. Where your attention goes, the energy flows. Set such intentions as, “Today I will push myself by trying a new class”, or, “I will create a positive ball of energy with all my work during this class and pass it on to ________ who needs it today”, or “For the next hour, I will stay present and consciously control every muscle in my body, with intention and power”.
2.Journal your journey leading up to the 31 day challenge, and throughout. Each day in a dedicated book, log your physical activity (because you might start training before the event), your emotional state before and after the activity, your intention or goal for that day and your fuel – the food that nourished you and helped you recover post-workout. You will begin to see patterns in your physical and emotional self that will help you to reach your goals.
3.Decide what challenge means to you, and own it. Yes, a yoga and fitness challenge is for a specific duration of time. How you challenge yourself is up to you. Your definition, or idea, of a challenge might be completely opposite of your friend’s. And, that is the best part. You might decide that a challenge means to try new fitness formats, take a 75 minute Power Yoga class, or perfect a handstand. Your friend might decide that a challenge is all mental, pushing herself to the limits emotionally. Regardless of your take on what a challenge means to you, commit to it, own it.
4.Prep your menu now. Nutrition during a challenge can be, well, challenging if you do not plan ahead. The more prepared you are, the better. It is crucial to refuel post-workout, within 30-60 minutes, to repair muscle fibers and to replenish lost nutrient stores. Decide now what foods will get you through a workout and what foods you will pack, or have prepped in the fridge, for when your class is over. Bliss Balls, Chia Pudding, hard boiled eggs, and loaded salads with nuts and veggies all pack well to bring along to a class. Or, chop and freeze fruit in individual portions and have plenty of protein and greens on hand for smoothies. Stock up on healthy snacks, make a meal plan, and prep all you can ahead of time to reduce stress and stay focused.
5.Find your tribe and inspire each other, make each other laugh, watch each other grow during your challenge together. Or, make a new friend. You might see the same person in class each day and see that you have the same interests. Strike up a conversation and, before you know it, you might be holding hands in savasana.
6.Make a real schedule. Print off a blank calendar page, post it on your fridge, and dedicate it to your challenge only. Decide on the classes you will be attending, book them, conquer them, then give yourself a big red checkmark at the end of each day. Watch it fill up as you track your amazing progress, and see where you could challenge yourself next with a new format.
7.Create a personal mantra to encourage yourself with words that you believe. Manifest your thoughts in one word or a sentence that you can repeat to yourself for strength, both mental and physical. Think of words, experiences, feelings and inspirations that make you feel strong, confident, and are a driving force.
8.Set 3 goals and tell 3 friends. Set SMART (specific, measureable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) goals pertaining to the challenge, write them in your fitness journal, repeat them to yourself daily, and tell 3 friends. Saying your goals out loud makes them real, makes you accountable, and motivates you to achieve them.
9.Plan for progression. If this is your first challenge or if you are a repeat challenger, try a pyramid progression, adding on more time each day, more reps, or try an unfamiliar format that you have been avoiding. Give yourself that extra push and step out of your norm as far as fitness and routine go. Open up your own doors, know you are growing spiritually and physically during this challenge, and watch yourself progress to the next level. What will your next challenge be?
10.Expect self discovery. A yoga and fitness challenge goes beyond getting physically fit. Determination, focus, commitment and achievement are all rewards that come at the end of a challenge and can carry on through life. Look at these rewards as gifts, from you to you. Gifts that keep on giving because you will have the confidence to achieve them again, challenge yourself in other areas, and maybe watch how your definition of challenge might shift a bit.
Above all, have fun. And, drink water. Don’t forget about the water.
If you’re up for a challenge, join hundreds of British Columbians in the upcoming Workout To Conquer Cancer to help raise funds to advance Cancer care. See you there!