Swimming too boring?
Are you not good at swimming?
Cant’ get started with meditation but want too?
Reset your mind and body during a busy week.
Hi, I’m John Dawson Channel creator for eFit30.
I don’t usually appear in eFit30 videos; I’m, the behind the scenes guy but I wanted to share with you a different kind of exercise that I discovered by accident. I have had some injuries in my life that have led me to explore many different types of activities many of which I have shared with you here on eFit30.
Swimming is often not considered by many to be an option for exercise as it is not very mentally stimulating and yet can be quickly tiring. However, there is a way to change all that and turn this is a combination of cardio and mindful meditation, that is second to none.
So here is the step by step instruction on how to do this. I won’t be doing this on video in the swimming pool for you, but I will describe this to you so you can do it.
To meditate you need to pay attention to breath as opposed to breathing. You need to be able to focus on breathing in and out. You could also use focus or a type of body scanning meditation.
To better help with this exercise I suggest that you use a snorkel, flippers, googles and a nose clip. These tools will change the way you swim so that it is more effortless and enables you to be centred and focused only on your breath. When you are swimming, then you will be able to leave your head in the water seeing only the bottom of the pool. The best type of pool is about 50 meters long with lanes, so you don’t bump your head during the practice.
Start by sitting on the edge of the pool and clearing your mind of thoughts of work or outside matters. You may want to take a note of the time if you wish to punctuate your swim with a walking exercise after about 10 minutes.
Make sure all your equipment is adjusted so you are totally comfortable so won’t be distracted by discomfort or equipment malfunction, however, if this does happen don’t let that stress you simply see it as an opportunity to reset your practice.
On your first lap, I suggest you use breast stroke. Don’t swim quickly but rather focus on your arms reaching full and comfortably through the water. Notice the bubbles as you push forward and each time bring your hands back to a prayer pose then stretch. Some way down the first lap you may want to turn your attention to your legs making sure that you clench your but and for a small arch in your back as you gently approach the wall.
Once you reach the wall, you may want to stand and turn rather than tumble turn as your snorkel will fill with water. If there is a need to reset your equipment, this is a good time to do it before you turn back. On this next lap try over arm now as you have begun to warm your body. Once again on this lap, you can scan down your body to pay attention to your stroke, feeling that your arms and legs move freely and calmly though the water. The purpose of this is to get a smooth, comfortable stroke established which you will use throughout the rest of your practice.
Pay attention to your arms, your stroke, move your thumbs pas your thighs, watch your hands travel through the water and find a rhythm and stroke that suits you.
At the next turn switch back to breast stroke so that now you are blending short bursts of High-Intensity training into your practice. This although seeming effortless will produce results later and is almost exercise by stealth.
In this lap focus on your breath having established a rhythm on your first lap. If you are not happy with your stoke, it is ok to use as much time as necessary to feel comfortable with your routine. When focusing on your breath, you will notice that it is easy to do as this is a great part of what you are doing. Try to regulate your effort so that you are not out of breath but rather taking deep and purposeful breaths. If you find that you are out of breath, you may need to take the time to reset your body and start again.
Now that you have set the scene it is a good opportunity to remember the context of the reflective part of your practice and that is non-judging, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance, and letting go.
As you are swimming up and down the pool, you continue to switch strokes each time. Focus on a “being” mode make time for yourself, slow down and nurture calmness and self-acceptance in yourself. This is a good opportunity to stop all your doing, learning how to make this time for yourself, slow down your mind and nurture calmness and self-acceptance in yourself using the serenity to focus and centre, learning to observe what your mind is up to from moment to moment, watch your thoughts let go of them without getting so caught up and driven by them.
If you are feeling fatigued, you can split your routine in two with a walk. Starting from either end of the pool leave all you swimming equipment behind and walk towards the other end of the pool if the pool is the same depth at either end this is best otherwise you may need to begin at the shallow end and turn back when it gets too deep.
Walk slowly and using the techniques above consider how you move. Carefully use your whole foot to grip the bottom of the pool and stride forward thinking about your form with each step. Once you are comfortable with your pace and are feeling that you are fully using all the muscles in your legs, you may want to move your arms to create resistance in the water. Using opposite arm to leg sweep your extended arm forward with your hand cupped as if you mean to push as much water as you can away from you as you strive forward. After several steps, you may see a small wave form behind you and maybe even see the wash fall over the side of the pool and into the overflow. Once you have established your routine, relax into your meditative state and let the water calm your thoughts. Watch the light reflect though the ripples in front of you.
Once you have completed a forward lap you can turn a walk backwards, this time cupping your hands back and pushing the wave out behind you. If you feel the strain in any of your joints from this, don’t continue this exercise and move onto the next part.
Next crab walk sideways using only one leg to push you, keep that leg as straight as possible and use your hips to push out, if you have done Pilates clams you may feel this working some of those muscles. Again to add extra resistance use both arms at the same time to push a wave of water to one side as you extend your leg.
After you have completed one lap on each side you may wish to do the wind-down, swim using the same techniques as above except this you may feel different to the first time you as you be more relaxed and know what to expect.
Your routine should take about 25 minutes. In the end, I suggest these stretches finish your routine.
Calf Stretch. With both hands on the pool, wall stretch out your legs behind you. Legs should be hip width apart, feet pointing forwards towards the wall. Lean in towards the wall with your arms outstretched then begin to lower your heels towards to ground. If you require more stretch, you can start to bend your arms slightly, keeping your feet on the ground.
Next a Thigh or Quadriceps Stretch. This stretch helps loosen up the knee joint. Stand near the pool wall for support and steady yourself with the right hand. Lift the right foot behind your back and grab it with the left hand. Stand straight with the thighs vertical and gently push the foot further towards the lower back towards the buttocks. Then when you are ready to swap sides.
You can use this exercise with other Pilates or Yoga videos from our channel each week as a holistic approach to your fitness.
If you would like to explore mediation more thoroughly, I highly recommend reading, “Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness” by Jon Kabat-Zinn