If we keep practising anything – swimming, golf, running, yoga – the same way we always do, we don’t get anywhere. We merely reinforce our old habits – of breathing, activating muscles and shifting our centre of gravity around – without focusing on moving more optimally.
If your goal is to “improve your game”, some analysis can identify if you’ve unhelpful movement patterns or a lack of strength or flexibility that gets in the way of a good golf swing or running gait. From there, you can then develop your practice in the direction that strengthens around the right patterns.
Here are two video tutorials on strengthening around the right patterns, using props: plough pose and caturanga.
The important thing is, without any awareness of where you are at, it is not possible to be scientific and systematic in your practice and to reach your goals. Even if you don’t have performance goals or dreams of personal bests, remember, you risk hurting yourself in the long run when you practise unmindfully.
Mindfulness can and should apply to everything that we do. We know we can analyse and get more information about ourselves – our swimming form, heart rate, etc – with the aid of videos, sensors and interactive software today. We can also get feedback from a coach. But there is another source of self-analysis, which is yoga. A good consistent practice of yoga can open our eyes to all of ourselves, and in terms of movement, offer an awareness of how we breathe, how we maintain balance, how we engage our inner and outer muscles, and how we move when we move.
We need to cultivate the right action, not just any action. Through our self-analysis, if we realize that we are overly reliant on one muscle group, or over-compensating with another part, then action can be taken to address these imbalances. This is when mindful practice can bring us to a place of optimal movement and ease, in the long run, allowing us to continue to do the things we do and to love life!
Mindful practice makes perfect.
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