Working Out // What Does it Mean? What Does it Do?
It is twofold: how wondrous working out makes you feel — physically and mentally — and how you benefit: body and mind.
It is all connected.
Wednesday, 6:48am. The golden morning light rained through the windows, refracting magnificently on the yogis’ glowing skin. 18 minutes is all it took for our bodies get warm and working, even at the crack of dawn.
7:19am, pre-Savasana ritual pigeon pose (Urdhva Mukha Kapotasana). As class wrapped up, our bodies simultaneously cooled down. I could not help but notice the sweat dripping from my brow, creating a liberating layer over my limbs — a sensation like no other: of health, detox, relaxation, and lightness. Time stopped; I was so present thinking about what my body had just done.
Do you stop to acknowledge how hard your body works when you “workout?”
Sweating. Moving your body. That is what it is; moving your body in a way that feels good. It makes you feel good.
When you physically start moving, your body is cold, it has to warm up. Even on a steamy August afternoon, your body may be warm on the outside, but it needs to heat up from the inside. Note, this is why it is not necessary to do hot yoga — your body should heat from the inside out. Conversely, working out in air conditioning is not beneficial either; your body combats the external chill to heat itself naturally. Long story short, comfortable temperatures are the key to a good sweat. Now, back to what the moving and sweating does.
Visualize it: what does your body do as you begin your workout? It begins to heat up. Its engines switch on; its system revs up. All components start moving and shaking: blood beings to circulate, oxygen is introduced and carbon monoxide is exhaled. This invasion of O2 is extremely beneficial. It helps decrease cortisol levels (stress hormones) and produces serotonin and endorphins: the feel good hormones. You really can get high on sweat!
That morning at yoga, I was present, watching my body. I had stopped moving, yet I was profusely dripping…I immediately panned to Andy Roddick’s Lacoste hat dripping whilst trying to serve at the US Open. I honed into how my body got itself working so much, so well, and so healthily. I mean what is better for you? And speaking of presence…
When you are intensely concentrating on solving a compounding finance problem at work, or are in the zone passionately writing an article, your mind is totally consumed by the task at hand. There is no space for other thoughts. The same happens when you workout. It is an exercise for your body and your mind. Whether you focus on your breath and different asanas during your yoga practice, or just run, run, run through nature in unsion with the falling foliage, you are giving your mind a rest. This rest can be either passive or present: utter emptiness up above, emptying your mind and taking a breather, or decisive organization. I often find that while running, I make space in my head; I organize my thoughts. This relieves even more stress and tension!
Physical exertion is an outlet for stress. It is a medium through which you can express your emotions. That is why crying during a SoulCycle class or having a moment during pilates is so commonplace. Breaking a sweat is an ultimate release. This convergence between mind and body is what you need to feel good. When you are physically pushing yourself, you are mentally free.
We all have different ways to let go. Some write, some talk, some reflect, and some sweat. However, working out is such an effective self-therapeutic remedy, good for the mind and body. Finding the motivation may be challenging, but think about how unreal you will feel after. The sweat becomes addicting; you feel so free, so accomplished after an intense physical session that you immidiately yearn for more.
Do what you need to do to feel your best; sometimes the pain is worth it. Love the life you live.
What do you do to feel your best?
Header image, Urdhva Mukha Kapotasana // pigeon pose. Via Etsy.