Tag Archives: Sports Club

The Power of Breath in Meditation and Fitness

BreatheInBreatheOutPayAttentionI was nine years old when my father, Deepak Chopra, taught me to meditate. Meditation has become an invaluable tool in my life to help  me stay calm, centered, and focused since then.

A vital part of meditation is breath. It is also an important aspect of yoga in wisdom traditions.  We know through sciences that breath is a critical component of the cardiovascular system, supports our digestive and lymphatic systems and is a reflection of our nervous system.

I use breath constantly as a tool to calm down when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed. And my daughters have also been taught to meditate to help them deal with stress at school. Your breathing is an expression of the activity of the mind. When we are settled, our breath slows down. When we are excited or anxious our breath gets faster.

There are a few simple breathing techniques you can try to help you stay calm and focused in a nerve-wracking moment. I go through a few of them in these guided meditations from The Chopra Well.

With conscious, intentional breath, we can slow down our automatic responses to situations and be more present in what we may be doing. I use these meditations to help me get through the day, but there are many times when your breathing can help you be more effective in your activities – specifically when working out.

Ann Bruck, a trainer with Sports Club/LA explains that there are two different types of breathing when you are doing physical activity. There’s stimulating breath which aims to increase energy and alertness. You breathe in and out rapidly through your nose with your mouth closed for 15 seconds at a time. The other type is relaxed breath, where you inhale for a count of 1 and exhale for a count of 1. Then inhale for a count of 2 and exhale the same, until you reach a cycle of five. This will help calm your nervous system and bring your body back to balance.

What kind of breathing techniques do you use when you are working out? Do you have any meditations or  exercises you use during the day to help you stay focused? I’d love if you shared in the comments below!

photo by: tokyosucks

Keep Your Health and Fitness Intents by Varying Your Routine

bepresenteachmomentThe most popular resolutions that are made for New Year’s relate to health and fitness. At Intent we really push the idea that you should strive not to make resolutions or physical goals like “I want to lose 30 pounds” but dig deeper in yourself and set intentions about how you want to feel for the new year – “I want to feel healthier and have a better sense of wellness.” It’s also important that to achieve your intent you set realistic smaller goals to motivate you to satisfy the intent desire in your soul. But once you have set your intent and created realistic landmarks to help you get there, how do you stay on track? According to StatisticBrain.com, 24% of people never reach their intended resolutions.

Your chances of succeeding at your intent increase as long as you keep the passion for it alive, and that means not letting yourself get bored. More than half of new exercisers quit within three to six months after starting a workout program, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). If you get bored or dread working out then you are much less likely to keep up the regimen. So how do you step out of your comfort zone? Try these tips.

  1. Try a new healthy food or recipe once a week – By expanding your food vocabulary you force yourself to learn more about the nutritional values of food, making it easier for you to make decisions about meals and snacks in the long term. Think of finding a new recipe as a new adventure. You can learn to love new foods or love your current favorites in brand new ways and this will prevent you from getting burned out on the same routine meals. “Find healthy foods you love, or learn creative ways to prepare foods so that eating is not a punishment, but a pleasant, (sometimes even spiritual) experience that involves mindfulness and togetherness,” says Sports Club/LA nutritionist Karen Sherwood.
  2. Take a group fitness class – There are so many ways to get in shape besides tying yourself to a treadmill or elliptical. It can be as simple as going for walks outside or changing your running route. Look at your local fitness center for their classes and pick something that you’ve never tried before. In September, Sports Club/LA launched their “Recess” classes, which helped adults work out by playing the games they had so much fun playing as a child.  Or you may try one of their Blitz classes which is a full body work out designed to improve your endurance, strength and power. Take a yoga class for a month and then switch to cardio dance classes. Not only do you allow yourself the chance to try new things and meet new people, but also you work out different parts of the body and you allow exercising to be something you really enjoy rather than an appointment with a machine you’ve grown to dread. You are not a hamster on a wheel, so why create a work out routine that makes you feel like one?
  3. Stay centered and in touch with your intent – Sometimes our intents evolve as time goes on and it is important to stay connected to that feeling. Trust yourself to change as your intent changes. By building a meditation or yoga practice to keep your center you can feel when a routine has started to not work and you can use your inner instincts to adapt your routine to what your body and mind are telling you it needs. “Physical activity along with peaceful practices such as yoga or meditation to help build a refreshed sense of self. This is the glue that seals in the new lifestyle as the body begins to change physically, resulting in a new stream of motivation,” Sherwood explains.

By combining these tips you not only increase your chances of reaching your intent, but you also give yourself more opportunities to grow and learn more about your health. Being adventurous with your fitness and nutrition routines not only makes the journey more interesting but you get a deeper appreciation for the journey as you go on, and that will propel you forward. We hope you take these tips to heart and that your 2014 is healthier than ever.

How Awareness and Positivity Will Lead You to Lasting Wellness

photo remix: Yoga woman on exercise ball - flickr_enthusiast_rocks_Nilmarie_Yoga-001Whenever you start a new diet or weight loss program there is one important question to ask yourself: why? Don’t stop yourself at the simple answer “Oh, I want to lose a few pounds to fit in those new jeans” or “I don’t want to feel self-conscious in a bathing suit.” Dig deeper. Many people begin the journey to permanent weight loss and overall wellness because they feel that being healthier will make them happier. While being healthier does give you more energy and confidence, you can’t expect it to cure all of your unhappiness. In fact, in Deepak Chopra’s new book “What Are You Hungry For?” he argues that tending to your personal and emotional wellbeing as you begin your weight loss program is absolutely key to making the changes stick.

While no one can claim to be happy constantly, Deepak advocates that being in tune and aware of your body and emotional state allows you to better fill its needs. “It’s an infallible kind of radar,” Deepak says, “Awareness allows you to sort out what you’re doing, how you feel, what you fear, hope and wish for – indeed everything in your life.”

You are living an unaware life when you unconsciously follow habits and rote behavior without question. Do you often let others take charge of your life or feel emotionally trapped by those around you? Isolating yourself and cutting off your connections to close friends and family can be another sign that you are out of tune with your body and need to increase your awareness to make permanent change.

You can help gain awareness by including a yoga practice or meditation in your diet and exercise plan. “Peaceful practices such as yoga or meditation to help build a refreshed sense of self,” explains Sports Club/LA nutritionist Karen Sherwood. “This is the glue that seals in the new lifestyle as the body begins to change physically, resulting in a new stream of motivation.

Being aware and working to keep a positive attitude will inevitably help keep you motivated as you progress towards your goal, and push you over hurdles or plateaus you reach along the way.

“Making any change is very emotional, so if you are starting this change from a negative, pessimistic place or allow yourself to go to that negative place, you won’t succeed.” Ginger Mallory of Sports Club/LA says. “However, if you vow to remain positive no matter what challenges may come with making this change, you will succeed! Your state of mind going into this will absolutely make or break you.”

But how do you find that awareness and keep that positive attitude? If you feel yourself slipping try these tips from Deepak.

  • Remember that you are both loved and loveable
  • Appreciate where you are – Even if you are just starting out, recognize the power in making the decision to make a change versus where you were before you took the first step.
  • Feel good about who you are – You are more than your shape or waist size. Remember that you are a worthy person and this process is only to make you healthier, not to change you in any way because you’re amazing the way you are.
  • Maintain loving and supportive relationships – Support will be key in this process. Stay close to those who inspire you, push you to be better and support you on the days when you can’t get to that place of positivity by yourself. Let them help hold you up.
  • Experience a deeper connection with a higher form of love – It doesn’t mean you have to prescribe to any specific religion, but connecting with a force or faith bigger than yourself can help you channel frustrations and negative feelings that arise out of your system. It can help buoy you during this transition and be another force to propel you forward.

This blog is part of our “What Are You Hungry For?” series with Sports Club/LA and to celebrate the release of Deepak Chopra’s latest book. Find out how you can win a copy of your own here and tell us what you are hungry for in the comments below. If you don’t want to wait for the give away you can purchase a copy of Deepak’s book today. 

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photo by: adria.richards