Physical exercise can have amazing health and well- being benefits for us. Yet, as almost everything, it is not necessarily always healthy as such. One factor strongly influences how exercise affects us: our motivation.
What kind of exercise we do and how we execute the exercise of course influences whether our body benefits from it or not. If done wrongly exercise can lead to injury, if not right away then over time. However, in addition to that out state of mind influences the degree to which we will benefit from exercise mentally and physically as well. Many people have a negative state of mind, which pressures them to exercise. For some it is even a punishing one. Our thoughts influence our metabolism and therefore also the effect of our exercise. Negative thoughts and the subsequent reaction in our body are felt during exercise and put the system in a stress response. Instead of increasing metabolism, releasing stress and putting the body into balance our system gets worn down, cortisol and insulin levels rise and our metabolism goes into survival mode. Fat cannot be burned and muscles cannot be built. A seemingly healthy activity cannot be healthy if fear, anger or other negative forms of motivation guide it. That seemingly healthy habit will then convert into stress.
I have observed a strong shift in my motivation to exercise from when I was younger to today. Up until a few years ago my exercise routine most of the time was motivated by compensating for food I had eaten and the wish to keep or often reach a certain figure or weight. Today I am much more motivated by how I feel, wanting to do something good for myself and stay healthy. I believe that my yoga practice played and still plays a big role in this shift. Yoga has the power to teach the practitioner to look and feel inside. In order to be able to feel the benefit of yoga one needs to practice continuously and regularly. The shift and learning does not happen after a few practices. I would say it is even the opposite. Beginning a yoga practice is very challenging. Today’s lifestyle asks us to constantly shift our awareness from the inside to the outside world, distracting us from our self and keeping us busy constantly. Beginning a yoga practice is challenging for mind and body as both parts need to first learn to calm down and shift the awareness to the inside. Overcoming that first barrier and having to keep going even when it’s difficult and very challenging for mind and body together with yoga’s nature of inviting the practitioner to feel and connect to the self brings long lasting and true benefits.
Self- limiting thoughts lower our well- being and metabolic capabilities. Exercising from a place of self-love, happiness and joy for movement and health will boost our well- being and metabolism, leaving us feeling satisfied and with the beneficial effect exercise can have on mind and body. While it is completely fine to generate part of the motivation to exercise in wanting to keep a certain figure it is absolutely important that this motivation comes from a positive and accepting place, not from a negative one. As soon as you are able to find motivation to exercise in the joy for it and wanting to do something good for yourself you will not have to constantly push yourself to exercise, but it will come from an inner place, which asks for it.
Wishing you a great week,