6 Ways to Practice Mindfulness During Your Rides

How being present-minded can help you get more out of your rides.

It’s easy to hop on a bike in an indoor cycling class and immediately get swept up in the fun and intensity of the workout. But there’s another approach that can be equally, if not more, fulfilling: Infusing your ride with a sense of mindfulness. In recent years, the practice of mindfulness—which is often described as maintaining a moment-to-moment awareness of your thoughts, bodily sensations, and surroundings—has become popular.

It has been credited with relieving stress, improving work or school performance, enhancing health, fostering compassion and altruism, and doing so much more.

Practicing mindfulness also can help you get more out of your indoor cycling workouts. For one thing, having this focused attention on what you’re doing will help ensure that you properly execute the moves and maintain good form on the bike. It will help you find the sweet spot where you’re exerting yourself at the optimal intensity for you, not too hard or too little. It will help you make adjustments to your pace, resistance, and other variables that will help you maximize your workout. And it will help you get more satisfaction from your rides. In fact, a 2015 study from The Netherlands found that when it comes to sustained physical activity, satisfaction is the crucial link in the relationship between mindfulness and exercise.

Here are six ways to become more mindful on the bike:

·      Focus on your breathing. Pay attention to the rhythm of your breathing as you inhale and exhale while riding. Also, notice how your breathing pattern changes as you exert yourself by picking up your pace or pushing more resistance up a hill, for example.

·      Tune into the physical sensations in your body. Take a moment to notice how your body feels supported by the saddle and how your upper body feels when it’s in the proper posture.

Do a head-to-toe scan of your body, noting any areas of tension or discomfort that should be addressed with a post-cycling TLC routine.

·      Notice the sensory stimulation around you. Take note of the sights and sounds in the studio and how they make you feel. Notice how the warm air and the sheen of sweat feel against your skin and how refreshing water feels as you swallow it while drinking up during your ride.

·      Concentrate on your body’s movements. Focus on how your legs feel as they smoothly turn the pedals in a complete circle. Check in to see if they’re each doing their fair share of the work or whether one leg is driving your pedal strokes more than the other.

·      Notice the thoughts that come to mind. The goal isn’t to control your mind but to simply notice the thoughts, ideas, and feelings that come up as you’re pedaling, without engaging or judging them.

·      Pay attention to how you feel inside. By tuning in to how your body feels as you push yourself as hard as you can during a sprint or a hill-climb, you’ll help yourself figure out when to dial up your intensity or take it down a notch.

In other words, you’ll help yourself personalize the workout so it suits your needs and abilities. It will also help you figure out how you can coach yourself to achieve new personal bests.

Ultimately, by staying calm in your mind and present in your body during an indoor cycling workout, you’ll boost your chances of achieving that optimal state known as “flow”. In this mental and physical state, you become so immersed in what you’re doing that all sense of time and space disappears and you lose any sense of self-consciousness. Instead, you are fully involved in the activity (in this case, indoor cycling), a result that can in turn enhance your performance and enjoyment of the experience. 

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