Mastering Mindfulness in Athletic Training

Three years ago, I returned to Banff, AB, from Melaque, Mexico after completing my Yoga Teacher Training with SOYA.

I was keen to share everything I had learned, but was also about to start my training for Ironman Canada. I was in conflict with how pushing myself through training could possibly be related to a practice of mindfulness. I visited a Naturopathic Doctor, in Canmore, AB who encouraged me to start my day by grounding myself, in order to listen to my body (and my soul) to figure out what I really  needed to do; should I train for Ironman, or devote myself to the practice of yoga. In the end, my inner self told me I could do both.

How can you cultivate mindfulness during your training?

1) Make every motion a meditation

Try unplugging, just this once (and then maybe twice, or three times). Go for a run without your headphones, listen to your feet hit the pavement, hear and feel your breath change.

- Repetitive motions flow a lot like a yoga class. When you swim, your breath is regulated. Tune into your breathing, 1-2-3-breathe! Feel your body glide through the water. Notice the sensation of your arms entering, and exiting the water.

- If you’re in a spin class, or working out on your trainer, take a moment and pause the music or put on a particularly epic song that resonates with you. Close your eyes, pedal to the beat (or to your own beat). Feel each pedal stroke, picture yourself moving closer and closer to your goal (or the top of a hill, or a finish line). Mindfulness really is a part of all of our training disciplines.

2) Listen to your body

- After you cool down from your workout (or before you start), try to have a moment to be still. Maybe it’s in the shower, maybe it’s before you start your car to go to work, maybe you can lie down after a stretch in the gym. Close your eyes or focus your gaze on an object of inspiration. Tune in to your body, from your toes to the top of your head. Notice what you feel. Direct your breath to areas of tension, invite your body to relax. Carry the knowledge of your body, and it’s needs into future workouts.

3) Schedule it

You’re an athlete. You’ve got a job. You’re a caregiver. You’re BUSY. If you’re anything like me, you’ve mastered the art of squeezing every last bit out of your day to help you achieve your goals. Without putting pressure on yourself, see if you can add one more thing to your list: LOVE. Your body and your spirit are capable of amazing things – make time to tell them “Thank you”.

How do you integrate mindfulness into your life? Tell me in the comments.