The Body-Mind Workout – The Mind Matters
By Patricia Lynn Belkowitz, C.Ht., EFT-CC
Did you know that you could maximize your sports performance and tone both your body and mind using simple techniques that the pros use?
Before a workout or game, you’re probably not thinking about relaxation. You may want to reconsider. Relaxed muscles allow the fluid motion needed for sports, which improves your athletic performance. After relaxation, your mind becomes quieter, allowing better focus on your fitness routine. You are less likely to injure yourself when you are relaxed and concentrating on your form and motion.
Attention to breathing is an important part of many relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga and hypnosis. A progressive muscle relaxation can also prepare you for exercise. Although it is possible to self-induce a trance from a script or an audiotape, you should consider starting with a Certified Hypnotherapist to reach a deeper level and to learn self-hypnosis methods.
Relaxation combined with imagery creates a more dramatic effect on your performance. Elite athletes have incorporated imagery into their training for years. Men’s Fitness (June 2002) reports “athletes from Tiger Woods to a variety of Olympians have used hypnosis to help visualize optimal performance and overcome self-doubt.”
Imagery is the process of creating a mental “picture.” Effective imagery is not limited to sight, but uses sound, smell, taste, touch, kinetics and emotions as well. Imagery creates a powerful experience of being your best. It improves your performance and achievement because “you build a template in your mind on how to do that move correctly,” says Dr. Shane Murphy, author of The Achievement Zone and former head of sport psychology for the U.S. Olympic Committee.
If you experience an injury, hypnosis and imagery have been proven to be a solid method for alleviating pain. Because pain is created by unconscious signals from your body to your brain, it’s best to treat pain directly through the subconscious. Shape Magazine (Feb 2003) cites a Harvard Medical School Study that found patients who used self-hypnosis needed less pain medication.
Increasing tolerance to pain can also be helpful when fatigue is hindering your workout. As a bonus, hypnosis boosts the production of endorphins, the neurotransmitters in your body that suppress pain sensations.
Imagery can also help you learn new skills more quickly, perhaps even preventing an injury. Often there is a limit on the amount of physical practice you can do, however, imagery allows you to go through the movement until you get it right. When you picture yourself succeeding, your mind becomes more comfortable with it. The subconscious mind does not know the difference between “reality” and what we imagine. Visualizing success boosts your confidence and helps you learn to believe in yourself.
Let go of negative thoughts and fears. Think positive. Remember that your performance doesn’t come from any individual workout but from consistently effective workouts over a period of time. Focus on using good technique and having fun. Relax.