After a yoga session with an age group team this weekend the head coach spoke about how he loved the way the athletes had to be fully engaged. How the practice required them to be aware of what they were doing with their bodies and curious about how they felt when they did it.
It was an hour of focused practice.
Going on auto pilot when training is often the norm. It is about how to go farther, push harder, but not always about being truly aware or engaged.
I don't want to lose you here. For many of us training is an escape from the stresses in life. The repetition can be almost meditative, providing an opportunity to let go of many worries and concerns.
There is no judgement in these words (that would not be very yogic of me ;), I often train in the exact same manner. What I am proposing is ask yourself some questions of how you might do things differently.
Are curiosity and awareness words that come to mind when you think about training? Play with the idea of making describing your practices with those words.
In fact I challenge you to apply them. Be curious, check in with your body, ask yourself questions and notice what is happening in your next training session. By doing this you will begin to develop greater awareness that can help develop more efficient technique and adjust the ways your body reacts to specific stimuli.
It will also begin to give you a chance to work with the mind-body connection.
Asana practice (the movement practice within yoga) is often focused on the physical benefits that be can gained. One aspect of asana that is often not talked about is how it is a great way to practice movement with awareness and curiosity, which can then give you the ability to apply them in training.
What does that look like?
During the first few moments of a practice go through a body scan while bringing awareness to breath. Moving through a sequence following your breath you come into a lunge. As you do the lunge notice the position of your hips. Are they stable? Do you feel engagement? Square your hips. What changes? Check in with your breath. How has that changed? Is there still a connection with it? Relax jaw and your eyes. How does effect the pose?
Eventually you return to mountain pose. Notice your breath and heart rate. How are they connected? Move through another body scan. How do the left and right side feel different? How does the pose feel different from the first time you entered into it?
How would taking this approach change how you train?
Improvement often comes from small adjustments in training, technique and mindset. To be able to make adjustments we must have awareness and use our curiosity to experiment with new ways of moving and approaching things.
Engagement, awareness and curiosity are keys to making effective change
Try it out and let me know if it creates any changes.
Is a 500-hour trained yoga teacher and therapist. He began teaching yoga after a 20-year swim coaching career.