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Runner’s high, flow state, being ‘in the zone’ — all accurate descriptors for some of the best workouts we (and hopefully, you) have ever had.
It’s no secret that exercise is a natural mood booster; we shout it from the roof tops at every opportunity. But when it comes to really seeing those benefits in our training sessions, we often leave it up to chance — only occasionally (and haphazardly) happen upon truly engaging workouts that centre us in the present moment; turning down the volume on discursive thoughts and giving us some mental breathing room.
Can we predict when these workouts are going to crop up? Better yet, can we factor in a technique or two to increase our chance of entering into a feel good ‘flow state’?
Experts think you can, and all you need to do is pay attention, not just to this article, but to every second of your workout — or better still, every last breath.
This simple concentration technique, which is found at the roots of nearly every mindfulness tradition, can help you to bring yourself into the here and now, letting go of negative thought patterns and emotions, and grounding yourself right here, right now— hopefully finding yourself right in the middle of a great workout.
You’re going to build some serious fitness, too. We didn’t forget that part.
Table of Contents
Simply perform one burpee, inhaling as you hit the deck, then exhaling as you jump up from the ground. Next, stand tall and perform one breath, paying special heed to the instructions below. Move straight into two burpees, following the same rhythm, then two deep breaths.
Continue in this fashion, adding a burpee and a breath each round, paying full attention until you reach round fifteen; a total of 120 burpees and with any luck a seriously clear head.
1. Burpee x 1-15
Squat down and place both hands on the floor between your feet. Jump your feet back into the top of a press-up and lower your chest to the ground, take a deep breath through the nose (A). Straighten your arms and hop your feet forwards, before jumping into the air with hands on head (B) exhaling through pursed lips.
2. Breathe x 1-15
Stand tall and place your hands on your hips, pressing your fingers into the bottom of your abdomen. Take a deep inhale through your nose, focussing on breathing deep down below your chest, until you feel the expansion of your belly with your hands (A). Gently let the air back out through your nose, feeling your abdomen ‘deflate’ again (B). This is one ‘rep’. As the burpees clock off, you may have to take shorter, sharper breaths, and you may even feel the urge to open your mouth- but attempt to use just your nose for as long as possible.
3. Pay Attention x Max Effort
Throughout, try to breath deep and long, using your nose and paying full attention to the sensations of breathing, wherever you feel them most strongly, be it at the tip of your nose or the expanding and contracting of your abdomen and ribs.
See if you can notice how often your mind wanders during your workout, gently bringing it back to the breath, or your body on each occasion.