Dumbbells and yoga mats
Working out is different for everyone: aerial hoop classes, running through the woods or on a treadmill, hypertrophy training or ballet, basketball or gymnastics,...
The point being: the possibilities are endless. And so are the reasons behind working out. I know I used working out as a form of punishment in the beginning. And then as empowerment. And now it´s a way of practicing self-care and loving myself and my body. That journey is a vital part of who I am now; so how do I work out to see being active as a practice of self-compassion?
My weeks consist of a bunch of weight lifting at home and yoga. That may sound like a weird combination, but there´s a reason behind it. I hate training at gyms. Of course people go there to train (at least almost everyone), but I still feel watched. And all the machines just seem unnecessary to me. This was supposed to be some me-time. I know that some people need a gym membership as motivation or they love all the different machines and having a gym buddy, and that is perfectly fine. But personally, I wanted an alternative and still do strength training. Because weightlifting is amazing for almost everyone: building muscle is not only about looking good (although that helps). It´s more about the feeling you get when you reach a heavier weight. Power and strength. It feels like my mind persevered. It shows me that I can be dedicated and I can achieve what I set my mind to. I reached a goal. And that sense of achievement and progression is something everyone needs more of.
Not only is strength training a step to a healthier you physically. There are countless studies that show the amazing effects of doing so. The important part is how it makes me feel, which is beyond great. My whole life seems easier because lifting heavy not only made my body function better throughout my everyday life but it taught me mental strength and endurance. And any sport that tests your limits can do that for you, not just weightlifting. That´s just what I found worked for me.
Why pair it with yoga though? Yoga needs serious strength. Mentally and physically. Getting stronger by lifting means I can "unlock" all kinds of cool yoga poses I never thought I would be able to do and the flexibility yoga gives me helps my body stay healthy and prepared for my dumbbells. The most important part is that yoga teaches me how to show up for myself. And that`s what truly transformed any activity I do, including weightlifting. I used to do it as a form of saying no to the present moment, saying no to how I looked and felt, to how I was doing in general, as a way of disconnecting from my body so as to push it as far as it could go and further.
That first time I went through a vinyasa flow and was lying on my mat at the end, a sweaty mess, in my first Shavasana pose (lying down), I felt connected. To my body, my breath, my mind, my emotions. And they were all intertwined as well. The next moment I went through an upper body workout, I could genuinely feel my stress melt away and my body was vibrating with joyful energy because it was moving and it was doing well; I could feel so because I was paying attention. I was being more mindful.
Whatever you do to stay active (going to the gym or yoga are just two options out of too many to count), challenge yourself for two weeks to explore why you do it. And what it teaches you. And if it´s not something you do because you want to take care of yourself, because you deserve it, but something you do because you don´t like yourself or any other reason that one could define as negative, then stop and think about that. Be aware of how your way of releasing energy physically can be a time you take for yourself, and only yourself: for your body and your mind, for your sense of balance and strength.
Working out should be a way of saying YES to yourself everytime you step into that class, on that mat, wear those gloves or float over the ice. Because that gives it the power to change your life for the better.
Have a great day and stay here.
PS: This post has been featured on pigletish.com; a wonderful mental health blog by Anneli Roberts! Go check it out...