women

When you pair your movements with positive affirmations, you get a win-win workout that transforms both body and soul.

You probably think of certain exercise programmes – yoga, Pilates, t’ai chi – as more mindful than others. But in fact you can, and should, maintain a strong mental focus whenever you work out. Even a basic strength routine offers an opportunity to cultivate intuition, fearlessness and other positive inner qualities.

That’s because every major muscle group in your body is connected to an element of inner strength. Follow these guidelines, based on Taoist principles, for making a strong mental connection as you do these exercises. You’ll build emotional fitness and a positive attitude right along with a more beautiful body.

The plan

Two to three times a week, do two sets of each exercise. During the first set focus on the connection. During the second set, repeat the affirmation (silently or aloud). The goal is to tune in to both your posture and thoughts, building inner and outer strength.

1.    Chest = Openness

Description: Chest = Openness

Chest = Openness

·         The connection

According to Taoism, the heart carries your joys and the lungs hold your sorrows. Building chest muscles that are both strong and flexible enhances your ability to stay open to all that life brings.

·         The move: Chest fly

Wrap a resistance band around your back just below shoulder blades. Holding an end of the band in each hand, lie with knees bent and feet flat on ground. Extend arms out to sides, palms up and elbows slightly bent [A]. Maintaining the arc in your arms, bring knuckles together over chest [B]. Inhale as you return arms to the starting position. Do 2 sets of 15 to 20 reps.

·         The affirmation:

I’m open to all of life’s experiences.

2.    Shoulders = Integrity

·         The connection

Shoulders represent your ability to be genuine and uphold your own principles. When they’re strong and open, you carry yourself with confidence.

·         The move: Overhead Press

Sit cross-legged on the centre of a resistance band. Hold an end of the band in each hand, elbows bent and close to your torso, hands at the outside edge of shoulders, palms facing in [A].

 

Description: [A]

Inhale, then exhale and press arms straight overhead, keeping elbows slightly bent at top [B]. Inhale as you return arms to the starting position. Do 2 sets of 15 to 20 reps.

Description: [B]

·         The affirmation

My actions flow gracefully from my beliefs.

3.    Back = Fearlessness

Description: Back = Fearlessness

Back = Fearlessness

·         The connection

Your back muscles are like the shell of a tortoise, protecting your vital organs from the outside world. A strong back frees you to express your true nature without hesitation or fear.

·         The move: Single arm row

Sit on the ground with your legs extended in front of you, knees slightly bent and feet flexed. Wrap a resistance band around the balls of your feet and hold both ends of the band in your right hand, arm extended towards your feet, palm facing in. sit tall and place your left hand on your hip [A]. Exhale as you draw your shoulder blades, down and bend your right elbow back, past your rib cage, and rotate shoulders slightly to the right [B]. Inhale as you return to the starting position, lengthening and expanding your back as you do so. Do 2 sets of 15 to 20 reps, then switch sides.

·         The affirmation: I have the ability to handle life’s inevitable changes and challenges with ease.

4.    Abs = Intuition

·         The connection

Your abdominal centre is at the core of everything you do. It is the home of your spirit: intuitive, inquisitive and full wonder.

·         The move: Reverse crunch

Lie face up with knees folded in towards your chest, arms at your sides on the ground, palms down. Inhale, then exhale as you pull abs in, tipping your pelvis forward, lengthening lower back and rolling tailbone off the ground [A]. Inhale and – maintaining the lift – extend legs up towards the ceiling, keeping them aligned over your hips [B]. Exhale, release the contraction and lower legs to the starting position. Do 2 sets of 15 to 20 reps.

Description: [A]

[A]

Description: [B]

[B]

·         The affirmation: I trust my instincts, I have all the knowledge I need. The answers reside within me.

5.    Lower body = Power

·         The connection

With their unparalleled strength, your buttocks and legs empower you to move in any direction you choose.

·         The move: walking lunge

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, legs straight but not locked at the knees, hands on your hips. Pull your abdominals in, lift your chest and relax your shoulders [A]. Lunge forward with your left foot, bending both knees so that your left knee aligns points towards the ground, hell lifted [B]. Keeping your heel lifted, push off of your right foot, straighten both legs and lunge forward with your right foot. Do 2 sets of 8 to 10 alternating lunges.

Description: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, legs straight but not locked at the knees, hands on your hips. Pull your abdominals in, lift your chest and relax your shoulders

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, legs straight but not locked at the knees, hands on your hips. Pull your abdominals in, lift your chest and relax your shoulders

Description:  Lunge forward with your left foot, bending both knees so that your left knee aligns points towards the ground, hell lifted

Lunge forward with your left foot, bending both knees so that your left knee aligns points towards the ground, hell lifted

·         The affirmation: I have the strength to make things happen in my life.

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