Pranayama - Breath
Dharana - Single Point Focus
Asana - Physical Preparation
Samadhi - Highest Level of Fitness
In the fast pace E-era the overload of information can make it difficult to establish a streamline plan to reach your fitness goals. One approach I will take with clients is what I call The 4 Limbs of Fitness plan. The foundation of yoga is based off of the 8 Limbs of Yoga which are a philosophical guidelines to living a positive life of health and service. I have taken 4 of the limbs to help individuals and groups to obtain their fitness goals. The 4 limbs that I have most often use when coaching clients towards a physical fitness goals are Pranayama, Dharana, Asana and Samadhi.
It all starts with a breath. Every lift, every run, every pedal and assent begins with a breath. I believe that by establishing a base with Pranayama will allow you to properly engage your core and bring focus to the breath. Weather your looking to add an extra 10lbs for a new PR or decrease your 5k time tuning into your breath will help achieve your goals. When I am cranking my bike up the side of a mountain I try and bring my awareness to my breath. If I cannot take a deep inhale through my nose and exhale out of my mouth then I am pushing too hard and I need to reconnect to my breath. Having mindfulness of how you are breathing can also help bring focus to the moment. If you find your mind wandering come back to the breath.
After the breath is established then Dharana must be strengthened. Dharana is the mental focus allows individuals to eliminate outside distractions. Be in the moment, finding the perfect line down a mountain takes a great deal of concentration. Dharana is focusing on a single point. If you have ever been trail running you have probably had one of those falls that happened just as your mind started to drift off then WHAM! Try to stay in the moment. Next time you find yourself daydreaming during your fitness routine see if you can bring your attention to a single point of focus. Focus on the current rep, step, jump, huck and be in the moment.
Asanas are the physical practice that is implemented to strengthen and balance the body. Treat. Strength and conditioning of the body will allow you to enjoy the adventures that your body takes on. I found that the physical practice is what makes the quality of my experience. Have you ever decided to take on a new activity that seemed like a great idea until you realized that your body was unable to handle the about of fitness that is required? Asana will help strengthen the body so that when presented with physical challenges you are able to tackle the mountain.
Finally comes Samadhi. Some would translate this to Nirvana but they are different. Nirvana is a spiritual place while Samadhi takes the individual to the highest state of self. Being the most fit and balanced you can be makes the impossible possible. For me Samadhi comes when i’m in the zone in a race. I have trained hard and prepared mentally and physically to have this pay off. Reaching the top of the mountain or the end of a hard race you have arrived. Take in these moment when you feel on top of the world.
Next time you are working out, running, hiking, biking or shredding see if you can implement one of the four limbs of yoga. Pranayama, Dharana, Asana and Samadhi are tools to help you be the most fit version of you. Remember it all starts with the breath. Take a deep breath, find your single point focus, train hard and live life as your highest self. The light in me honors the light in you, Namaste.