How to Improve your Relationship with Exercise.
Many people are drawn to the Virtual Yoga Studio because of the appeal of being able to exercise in your own private space. If that’s the case for you, I am so delighted you’ve found us.
For some people, traditional exercises spaces such as gyms can feel daunting, overwhelming or even hostile. It can be due to the fact you feel scrutinised or judged by other members, the mirrors that seem to be everywhere or just that you don’t belong. Hopefully this article can help you with some practical ways to move forward with your relationship with exercise.
Regular exercise is really beneficial and can help us with a wide range of things such as improving mental health, processing our day and helping us to sleep better. Whatever the reason that you want to exercise, they are private and personal to you.
It’s important to emphasis here that all reasons for exercise are just a valid.
Don’t force yourself:
I am really strong believer that you should be kind to yourself, especially if things are difficult for you. Some people may be faced with barriers to even start – if you do, that’s ok.
Where people have had negative interactions with exercise very often in comes down to being made to do something that’s out of your comfort zone and then being criticised for it. Instead let’s reframe. When it comes to the Virtual Yoga Studio practices you do not EVER have to do anything you don’t want to. If you feel a pose is too much for you, you are always welcome to sit it out, come into child’s pose or whatever works for you.
No one expects you to do this every day – participate when you feel like it and I know that you will naturally do more when the time is right, but there is never an expectation from us – every practice you do is great and our only objective ever is to try and help you feel good.
Celebrate your Successes:
If you, like myself, suffer from acute Britishness, you may find this uncomfortable – but I know there are people reading this who need to hear it. For some of you, starting at all might be a big deal. It doesn’t have a big thing, but do take a moment to acknowledge yourself if this is the case for you. Which brings us on to our next point.
Focus on the positives:
If you find you have had a turbulent relationship with exercise in your life it is also likely because you have had negative reinforcement. Simply meaning you felt a negative thought towards exercise such as “I hope they don’t pick me last” and then you were picked last.
As a result, this thought and the emotions behind it gain more traction in your mind and then when you are in a similar situation again, the negative feedback loop continues or you find yourself trying to avoid the difficult emotion in the first place. This is a very real thing.
Instead we want to change this into a positive loop. At the end of every practice you could list out in your mind or in a journal what was good. This could be that a stretch felt nice to you, or a pose made you feel empowered because you felt you could do it well. It doesn’t matter what it is, whether it’s big or small but you will find with practice, you will have more and more things to write down. The idea is to start to turn the ‘wheel’ in the opposite direction – it might be difficult at first but you will gain momentum.
A further note on this is that you will not stop negative thoughts arising – this is a common misconception in meditation. Trying to shut thoughts down can often make them louder. Instead you can do a few things – some people recommend imagining the thought as a cloud moving across the sky, so you simply notice it’s there and acknowledge it from a point of detachment.
The final technique I will mention is that when a negative thought arises you can have and alternative mantra prepared. Many people use ‘this too shall pass’ or if it is a specific thought, the positive thought you wish to replace it with.
Progress not perfection:
This is a common mantra in yoga. Sometimes when we have a lot going on, it’s easy to feel like throwing the towel in. One of the things that yoga is particularly helpful for is building our resilience. If you can adopt the attitude of ‘I am going to do what I can, and then try to make it better;’ that’s all we are ever aiming for. If you were perfect straight away there would be no need to practice.
I really hope some of these points are useful for you. As ever, leave us a comment below and let us know how you are getting on.
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