For Instructors

Mind-Body....hmmmmm?

I had the most wonderful opportunity today to try to define my understanding of ?mind-body.? To be totally honest, I have never sat down and put it to words and I have to wonder if other people fling around buzz words without really stopping to think about what it means, whether it is an industry standard understanding or an understanding felt at the visceral level. In all honestly, I wasn?t really prepared for the question, so the first thing that came to my mind was to consider under what circumstances this mind body connection could happen in the context of a Spinning® class and it hit me with clarity that I would like to share, and, as always, I welcome the discourse ? especially if you disagree. For me, the very first thing that must be in place is the ambiance. I know at one Indoor cycling studio where I get my sweat on in California, they have cardio equipment at the back of the studio and you can hear weights and grunts and telephones. These are all wedges that are driven between the mind and the body as awareness is pulled away from the concentration at hand. Dimming the lights is a good start, requesting the silencing of phones is another. A super clean studio is huge?I?m fastidious about this ? it is the cleanest most organized, non-cluttered room I?ve stepped into in 3 years. I have no mirrors in the studio and the room is encased in glass, surrounded by plants?.soft and easy on all of the senses. This is the ambiance I seek long before the class starts. The next level closer to providing a mind-body experience in the class is the tone of the talk, from the greeting, to the clarity in the lesson planned for the day, to the choice of music to the way each and every individual is engaged and the group as a whole is hooked. This is eye contact, checking in for special concerns and experience, gentle correction of form and praise for all that is done right. It includes dismounting the bike and checking in with those who need it and leaving others alone who don?t need to be checked in with. It is the instructor?s expression of confidence and competence and word choice and the power of suggestion for those people who have never experienced just letting go through that rhythm release. Suggestions to escort the thoughts of the day out by negotiation with the resistance knob, because you and I both know that if you?re making your grocery list, you probably don?t have enough resistance on the bike to be fully engaged. It is also suggesting the softening of tension through a body scan, releasing the tongue from the roof of the mouth, melting the face, and softening the elbows. This is coaching ? you taking care of the external stuff, so they can take care of the internal stuff? ?which brings me to the top tier?you get through the first two levels and then you pretty much have to just drop out from underneath them and let them fly?with no distractions, with total confidence and an honest effort, you, as the instructor, are no longer necessary. Stop talking. You see, in my opinion, reaching any sort of mind body connection is not something that can be applied to someone?.the most you can do is set the scene and let them go. And ultimately this is the self efficacy that we?re all shooting for as fitness leaders, instilling in our clients the opportunity to release their heads from all the demands of their life and their bodies from fatigue and gravity and let the mind be in tune with the needs of the body and the body be in tune with the needs of the mind. No external pressure for either, but rather internal melding of the two for the ultimate awareness?insight?and, with that insight comes a personal understanding of how we cope with challenges and what happiness feels like. When all these conditions line up for a client the carry over to their lives outside the Spinning® experience is profound. I was so grateful to just have a moment to think about it this morning. I?m not sure if I hit the mark, or even come close to others? understanding of the topic, but I would love to hear if any one has anything to add to this line of thinking. Bring on the science, the personal experience, the clarification and the ?right answers?? If you had to describe the notion of mind-body?what would you say?
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