Exercising My Whole Self

Old habits die hard, especially when they are taken for granted. Most of my life I have taken for granted my “right brain” (emotional and creative side), and I have since decided to try to be intentional about developing and exercising that side of me.   Maybe I can be twice as smart than just developing the cognitive side of my brain!

Since then, I have done much to explore and foster my Self that exists when I shut off the cognition (subject for another blog). I doubt I can come even close to saying that I’m twice as smart, but I’m much more….. satisfied? Intuitive? Confident? Inspired. Joyful. Peaceful. Connected. Complete. It’s hard to say with much specificity, but I do feel different, and in a good way.

Accordingly, my exercise routine has also evolved to be more comprehensive. I used to be a cardio, and/or a weights-only type of gal. However, my cardio and weights routines often focused on the same set of muscles each time. For example, most people know to do sit-ups or crunches, but often forget to exercise the opposing muscle group, the lower back. I am trying to mix up my classes more so that cardio and strength training do not over-focus on the same muscles.

Even assuming I attended to all my muscle groups, cardio and strength training really only covers half of the desired exercise outcomes for me these days.   My routine must now include my inner self, ie my ability to be present, connected and not only strong, but flexible muscles.   Each week I try to do tai chi, which works on my balance/core and connection to the universe, yoga/pilates/piyo which works on core/flexibility as well as connection, and walking which provides a little cardio while connecting me to nature and to Chris and puppies.

Skipping the emotional/spiritual workouts leaves me inclined to worry, ruminate, obsess and feel more stressed and isolated. Skipping cardio/strengths leaves me just feeling less energetic and a bit flabby. When I practice the combination, I feel strong, flexible and peaceful.

Not that I always have time for 4 classes per week plus walking. I try to mix it up a bit each week and combine activities (walking with loved ones) for a win/win and to have a balanced portfolio over a several week time-frame.

This journey has taught me that there is yet more that I am missing, even in my attempts to be holistic. I don’t even include beautifying or cleaning the environment (fortunately I have a maid), which is another important element of my world. I don’t make much time for the piano or music, and creative expression is limited to blogging for the most part. I know as our knowledge and wisdom grows, my concept of holistic will also change, and so will my practices.   My challenge will be to continue to stay open and balance maintaining a routine with avoiding getting into a rut.

What else am I missing?   What types of exercises do you do to build and grow yourself holistically? What is the value to you, if any, of broadening the focus beyond our muscles?

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