Unconventional Meditation | A Mindful Experience

I am an avid hiker. I don’t travel long distances to hike, the Sandia Mountains are located on the east side of Albuquerque and I can enjoy myriad trails year round.  I know, many places don’t have mountains to hike it, but this isn’t about hiking per se, more about noticing your surroundings while getting a great all over workout.  It’s about learning to focus on your surroundings, breathe deeply and learning to live in the moment, meditating without sitting.

It’s about learning to focus on your surroundings, breathe deeply and learning to live in the moment, meditating without sitting.

Walking out the front door is easy.  Put on a pair of shoes and go!  I will attempt to talk about how to meditate while working out.  As you start to walk notice your surroundings, each yard is different, people are walking their dogs, different cars go by, the ever changing cloud patterns…  Walk at different speeds, find hills, include a jog once in awhile.  Take time to think about what your body is doing.  Focus on your breath.  Try slow deep breaths through the nose, try faster deeper breaths, not too fast, through your mouth.  As you settle into a pattern and focus on your breath your walk becomes meditative.  Breathe in, breathe out…  In time you become aware of every step, every breath, every blade of grass, every tree, every cloud.

Even a cardio workout at the gym can be meditative.  You step onto the elliptical trainer, set your time, resistance and incline, and you start to move.  Right, left, right, left, breathe deep, find a cadence.  If you listen to music you can keep time with the beat.  Try breathing in time with your feet, every right and left is one breath, or slow it down to every two or three revolutions.  Follow the cadence of someone next to you while you look out the window and admire the clouds.  The focus is on the breath.

As I hike I try to stay in the moment.  I listen to each breath, hear each footstep as it lands on the ground and notice each twig I break as I look at the vegetation that has changed from green and lush to sparse and dry in the winter months, and back to green in the spring and summer  I can hike the same trail ten times in three months and see something different each time.  The world is amazing – pay attention to everything!

I teach my students and clients to be mindful and present.  We work on breath, focus and mindfulness.  Of course we work on strength, cardio, nutrition and general fitness too but our lifeline is our breath, we need to focus to be present and enjoy our life, and mindfulness is just plain good karma.  It can take a lifetime to learn to master, but with daily practice we can achieve the things we want and enjoy every moment.  Learning to meditate teaches us patience and calmness.  This patience and calmness can help us in many aspects of our life.

You don’t need mountains to walk.  Head out the front door and breathe in the day.

Author: Mindy Caplan ACSM-EP is a New Mexico-based Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer, Wellness/Lifestyle Coach, and Yoga Instructor.

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Ask the Doctor!

This regular segment of ‘Ask the Doctor’ addresses questions submitted by Sports Medicine Weekly followers. Dr. Brian Cole from Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush will be discussing:

  • Does Yoga Build Strength?
  • Do Men Loose Weight Faster than Woman?
  • How Much Ice is Too Much?

Sports Medicine Weekly on 670 The Score

If you have a question to be addressed on an upcoming show, please click here to submit your question.

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Yoga for Beginners – All You Need to Know to Get Started

Being new to yoga, you’re probably not sure where to start. Yoga is such a broad term it can be overwhelming. For this reason, we’ve assembled this comprehensive guide. It will introduce you to various aspects of yoga, answer possible questions you may have and offer some practical tips to start your journey.
If you’re interested in incorporating yoga in your life and learning more about it, read on.

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Does Yoga Build Strength?

Is yoga sufficient strength exercise for optimal health, or do I have to lift weights in a fitness center?

In general, the few available experiments involving yoga suggest that it leads to measurable but limited and patchy strength gains.

Consider the results of a 2012 study of premenopausal women who were randomly assigned to yoga or to a control group. The yoga group completed twice-weekly, 60-minute sessions of Ashtanga yoga (which consists of sequential, standardized postures), while the control group continued their normal activities. After eight months, the yoga practitioners had developed more powerful legs compared with at the study’s start and with those of  the control group, but had not increased strength in other muscles or improved their cardiovascular fitness.

Similarly, in a 2013 study, 12 weeks of Bikram yoga (a variety that consists of other, specific poses done rapidly in a heated, saunalike space), enabled a group of young adults to dead-lift more weight on a barbell than they could at the start, but did not improve their hand-grip strength or any other measures of health and fitness.

Over all, yoga appears to be too gentle physically to be anyone’s lone exercise. In one of the most interesting studies of the activity to date, experienced yoga enthusiasts performed their favorite type of yoga for an hour in a metabolic chamber that tracked their caloric usage and heart rate. The volunteers then sat quietly in the chamber and also walked on a treadmill there at a leisurely 2 miles per hour and a brisker 3 m.p.h. pace. In the end, the measurements showed that yoga was equivalent in energy cost to strolling at 2 m.p.h., an intensity of exercise that, the authors write, would “not meet recommendations for levels of physical activity for improving or maintaining health or cardiovascular fitness.”

So if you downward dog, jog occasionally as well, and visit the gym to build full-body strength and wellness.


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