Free Your Mind And Move It

by movelicious on June 27, 2012

“`In addition to trail running you will do some mild rock climbing (hands required), wade ice cold streams, struggle through snow which at night and in the early morning will be rock hard and slick and during the heat of the day will be will be so soft you can sink to your knees and above, cross cliffs were a fall could send you 300 feet straight down, use fixed ropes as handrails, and be expected to be able to follow the course with a map,’” and you will be running 100 miles in the Hardrock 1oo in Colorado, USA. (Eat and Run, p. 170) So how do stay focused? How do you do not go nuts? If it’s a 100 mile run, an intense yoga workshop in searing heat, or just starting to exercising for 30 minutes, how do you not let nagging thoughts get in your way?

be present. Try to “become  immersed in the present moment where nothing else matters.” (Eat and Run, 182) This advice from ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek is spot on.  It is also very yogic because yoga in the end cultivates “the cessation of movements in the consciousness.” (Sutras, I.2.)

Still this is something easier said than done. What are some additional ways to  calm down your brain enough to keep on moving until being present becomes (easier) to achieve.

what are you looking at? Yoga has 9 different drishtis, places that you direct your gaze to. For example, in adho mukha savasana (downward facing dog) an advanced practitioner would gaze at her belly button. If you go for run or are even just lifting weights use your gaze your recenter yourself. This could mean simply taking in the scenery or as my coach taught me, stand on one leg and look at the movement of your outstretched thumb as you move it across the body. Use it to recenter yourself. The gaze gives the brain something else to do.

think of the next thing ahead. If you’re in middle of an excruciating run think of the next aid station, the next cup of water that will come your way.

visualization. Flow like water, be steadfast like a tree. Use imagery to help you stay focused.

sound. If you practice by yourself turn on some tunes; Iyengar has done so. (Sparks of Divinity, p. 20) Music can help distract you from discomfort or your brain having a party in your head. If you’re part of a group practice try if listening to your neighbor’s breathing can be soothing.


prepare yourself.Yoga is concentration and asanas are meant to help you calm your mind. Generally, to stay with your movement practice will help you stay focused in the long run (pun fully intended). Additionally, set yourself up for success:do not have a gigantic meal before a 1 hour run or practice. Consider meditation. Try out a variety of forms and find the one that works for you.

keep things in perspective. If you’re not dealing with any serious injuries, or a chronic illness your brain is just having a party in your head. It’s really no big deal or as stated in the Hardrock 100 manual, “No whining.”

What is a big deal is that you’re trying to “free your mind” and keep on moving, no matter what telenovela your brain is enacting in your head.




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