By Michelle Owens
On a recent Saturday morning I watched from the yoga studio window as a group of runners wearing bunny hears sprinted from the starting line of an Easter-themed neighborhood 5k. What makes those “ever ready” bunnies keep on running, I wondered? When they want to quit at the halfway point, what inspires them make it to the finish line?
Surprisingly, for many champions, the answer lies in what they see in the mind’s eye. If you want to excel in your health and fitness routine, do what many elite athletes do to develop a competitive edge. Embrace the power of visualization.
Use the powers of the mind to see yourself in a certain situation or achieving certain results. We employ visualization in yoga all the time to help with reaching our goals, whether they be to achieve relaxation or learn a new pose. And scientific studies show that athletes who pair physical training with “mind training” or visualization have higher success rates in their athletic events.
If you want to harness the power of visualization to complete a race for example, here’s how you would use this technique to help you succeed.
*Create a clear mental picture of what you want to achieve. Do you want to be the first runner to cross the finish line, or do you just want to finish the race?
*Now that you have a clear idea of your goal, you need to find a place to relax and quiet your mind. This is easily achieved by focusing the mind on your breathing. Tune into the sensations of your inhalations and exhalations. How does the breath feel as it enters and exits the body. How does it sound? When your mind starts to wander or allows negative thoughts to surface, bring your attention back to your breath.
*Once you have a quiet and clear mind, imagine yourself on the race course. If you don’t know what it looks like, look at the race map or drive the course ahead of time. Picture yourself running or walking the course. Visualize yourself feeling tired and overcoming the fatigue to keep running. Imagine the positive affirmations you tell yourself to keep going. See yourself overcoming challenging sections of the race course. See yourself pausing for a cool, refreshing cup of water. See yourself bypassing others on your way to the finish line. Picture yourself crossing the finish line to the cheers of your family, friends and co-workers.
*Imagine the incredible sense of accomplishment you feel when the race is behind you and you’re celebrating with the other race participants. Memorize this euphoric feeling of success and use it to help you finish the real race.
*Repeat this exercise often between now and the big day.
Remember, if you can SEE it, you can BE it!
About the author: Michelle Owens, is a Yoga Alliance-registered yoga teacher and owner of Yoga East studio (www.yogaeastorlando.com) in downtown Avalon Park. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.