Thursday, October 14, 2010

Taking it Slow Before You Go

The Benefits of a Slow and Considerate Warm Up

Whether it is an 18 year old professional dancer or athlete, with a perfectly conditioned body, or an over 40 year old man with a few muscle imbalances, a slow warm up gives the body and the mind time to become in sync. During a warm up we have the arena to become aware of our breathing, and to take inventory of how our body is feeling. Our body can tell us a lot of things if we just take a moment to listen.

We all must learn how to walk before we learn how to run and most of us can do both, but to reach any physical/fitness goal we must learn how to do anything with proper form. We need to become aware of the point in which we begin to compromise our form and breath control, and learn how to work through this…this is the “edge” we will need to work in to learn how to maximize endurance, to make us stronger…body and mind. We cannot become aware of physical compromises if we are racing towards the end without enjoying the journey. We need to take it slow in the beginning.

Preparing our body for more intense exercise is not the only advantage of a slow and considerate warm-up. A slow warm up is a great opportunity to take inventory of our bodies, our postural habits, our stride, and our intentions. The slow warm up is also a great time to become aware of any habits that could be counterproductive to our goal of nurturing and creating a balanced body.

A slow and considerate warm up is a great opportunity to become aware of our mental and physical reactions to new sensations/physical challenges. During a slow warm up, we have the time to learn how to process any sensations and our reactions to them. We need to learn how to process the feelings of fatigue/exhaustion into a positive and productive sensation in order to maximize our workout and achieve optimal performance. This is how we “work through it”.

Every athlete, dancer, and fitness participant who wants to improve their performance needs to learn how to relax/soften when the intensity level is pushed. Learning how to welcome and process the hellish feelings we experience once we are working at our “edge” can be fun. To make this edge an enjoyable place to be, we have to learn how to stay in the moment. When we are training we need to stay focused and alert to the changes in our bodies and the task at hand. This does not mean fixate on or over-analyze any one sensation, just stay focused. We can learn the most about our body, mind, and breath connection while working at our “edge“. This is the area we should train in for longer periods, try to push from when we are trying to improve, and we will learn to enjoy once we start to become aware of the improvements.

The only way to learn to relax and soften is to become acquainted with our breath and how to control it during any intense physical challenge. When we breath, we need to try to focus on conserving the “action” whether it is the inhale or the exhale. This will help us with our endurance and ease of execution of any task. Trying not to go “all-out” at the beginning of any task will also help to maximize our ability to endure the “long-run”.

Controlling our breath does not mean to “bully” it. We need to learn to “guide” it. We need to become familiar with our breathing, without fixating on it, over analyzing it, or trying to change it…just notice it.

Take a moment and tune in to your breathing. It is hopefully effortless and feels good…enjoy.

Now, our job, forever and ever, amen, is to try to maintain this type of breathing, no mater what…now, we can’t force anything to be relaxed…we have to just surrender, savor, and enjoy it…once we do, the “ease” will follow. We need to become familiar with what “ease” feels like even when we are on the threshold of our physical limits, and then, try to re-create, create, fake, conjure, (or whatever it takes other than force) that feeling, and marry it to our workouts.

For More Info, check out these Workshops at The Controlled Burn Fitness Studio.
Breath-Control and Mindful-Movement
Flexibility, Core-Conditioning, and Restorative/Relaxation Workshop (3-Hour)
Runners Conditioning Workshop
SMR "Self Myofascial Release" (3 Hours)
Head to Toe Flexibility Workshop (2 Hours)
Ultimate Relaxation Workshop (3 Hours)

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