We are constantly told that exercise is the most effective method to improving our health. While there is substantiated truth to this fact, most people have no idea that exercise can be used as a means of connecting to and improving bodily functions. The more familiar you become with your body the smoother it will run. Although weights, reps, sets, classes, and cardio are methods by which you can improve your overall health, the greatest benefit lies in bodily self-awareness.
As a top fitness professional, I have spent numerous hours in the gym perfecting my clients' ability to use their body with increased "awareness." When my client leaves a session, they possess stronger "body awareness" resulting from increased exertion--thus they are more connected to themselves. This connectivity provides increased energy, mental clarity, physical fitness, and prevents injuries.
Keep in mind, your body's muscles are simply a system of "pulleys and levers" designed to move your bones in whatever direction you choose. However, the key to health, well-being, and longevity is learning the proper method of breathing and movement.
Our bodies are similar to an advanced computer system. There are vast memory storage areas reserved for your daily data input. You probably have heard the term "muscle memory." Every activity you complete during the day is "logged" into your muscle memory--eventually becoming a behavior or habit. As James Allen once stated, "Men imagine that thought can be kept secret, but it cannot; it rapidly crystallizes into habit, and habit solidifies into circumstances." This is indeed a true statement when it comes to muscle memory.
For example, both good and bad postures are remembered behaviors. Good posture leads to better posture and poor posture will just get worse. The same is true for any body behavior we practice.
A negative example of this is when stress accumulates in the body as muscle tension. If tension is not actively released, it is stored in muscles. Eventually the muscle has no choice but to incorporate this tension into static positions. In other words, the more tension stored, the less flexible you become.
How to Widen Your Comfort Zone Using Intentional RelaxationIntentional relaxation requires you to actively focus your attention inside your body and purposely relax. This simple procedure will reduce a tremendous amount of stress and tension while creating space for health and vitality. The beauty of this exercise - it can be practiced anytime and anywhere. While the following exercise is tailored for an office worker sitting in their chair - lying on your back in a comfortable and quiet setting would be most ideal.
- Begin by making sure the small of your back is firmly pressed against the back of the chair and your feet are firmly on the floor. Focus upon your body as it breathes.
- Where in your body does your inhale begin?
- Focus upon this targeted area and breathe in and out through your nose. Allow your breathing to be natural. If your breathing is shallow let it be shallow, if its deep, let it be deep.
- As you exhale, let it seep out of your nose as fast or as slow as your body lets it go.
- Each released exhale is a direct experience of how to "let go."
- Each time you exhale relax your body, just let go of your body and allow it to sink deeper into your chair.
- Start at your head and relax all the muscles in your face one by one. Continue down your body until you reach your feet.
- Allow the surface beneath you to completely support your weight as you let go.
- Be aware that breathing in this way may make you lightheaded. Please take care of your needs and do not continue if you feel uncomfortable.
- Deep relaxation
- Heightened body connection and awareness
- Increased flow of energy in your body