I had such an interesting experience yesterday in a Soul Cycle spinning class and I wanted to share it with you.
For those of you who don’t know about Soul Cycle, it’s basically indoor spin classes that combine a high intensity full body workout with inspirational “soul” aspects that are meant to motivate and emotionally connect you to the experience. The music is incredible, the teachers are insanely good at indoor cycling, and rather than describe it as a spin class, I always say it’s “an experience”.
I could go on and on about how much I love it, but here’s a funny link to describe how crazy people are about it.
So anywho, I was in a class yesterday and during one of the last songs, the instructor told us all to close our eyes.
She was really adamant about making sure every one of us had our eyes closed. Once they were closed, she told us that she wasn’t going to instruct us at all for an entire song (usually they tell you what to do every 8 counts).
Instead, she said “I want you to move your body however you damn well please. Eyes closed, not looking at anyone else.”
I loved this. It was a chance for us, for about 5 minutes, to just go inside our own bodies. We couldn’t look at anyone else, we couldn’t compare, we couldn’t judge ourselves for going too fast or too slow or for standing or sitting, we just got to do whatever the hell we wanted.
It was such a fun experience. She kept telling us to do what our bodies wanted to at every moment. There were times when I turned all of the resistance down and spun really really fast, and then times when I picked up the resistance and went really slow and steady. Times when I came out of the saddle and times when I went back in the saddle. I just freely moved and did whatever felt the best at the time.
It. Was. Awesome.
And I had no idea what anyone else in the room did. It didn’t matter.
Nobody was telling us what to do. We couldn’t look and see what anyone else was doing, it was all just personal.
It felt good to connect with my body like that. To say, “nobody’s telling you what to do. how do you want to move? what feels good right now? how about now? how about now?”
I left feeling a sense of deep connection to my body. To my legs that were pushing through the class. To my heart that was rapidly beating. To my arms that were holding me up. To my butt that was hopping on and off the seat. To my neck that was leaning down. To my abs and back that were supporting me. To my muscles that felt strong.
I felt thankful. I felt like my mind and body were buds, helping each other out but both working for the same cause.
As someone who struggled with my weight for years, I know what it’s like to feel deeply disconnected from my body, which in turn leads to a low level of body confidence, which in turn often times leads to emotional eating.
If you struggle with your weight or emotional eating, it’s so important to look for ways to become friends with your body, regardless of how much weight you want to lose. And that starts with connecting to your physical body – your legs, your arms, your skin, etc.
I would encourage you to take some time to sink into your body today. Here are three really easy way:
1. While you are reading this, do a quick survey of your body. How do your shoulders feel? Where is there tension? What hurts? What feels great? What can you adjust to feel better? DO you need to get up for a few minutes? Just bring your attention to your body and show your body that you care.
2. The next time you go to exercise, take at least 5 minutes to let your body guide you. If you’re running, rather than trying to stay on pace, don’t look at your watch. Just let your body move at the pace it wants to – maybe faster or slower.
3. One really fun way to practice being IN your body is to put on a song you love. Move your body to the music however you damn well please. If you want to sway like a monkey, do it! If you want to twirl yourself, do it! If you want to do lunges to the song because you need to get some energy out and you’re feeling strong, do it! This is one small way to start being IN your body. Go in with no agenda, just turn a song on and dance.
I would love to hear – how do you stay connected to your physical body? Do you feel like you check in with yourself often or do you want to focus more on this? Let me know in the comments!
P.S. I wrote an article for MindBodyGreen about Intuitive Exercise that you may find interesting. Here it is.
P.P.S. This is the song the instructor played while we had our eyes closed. Enjoy!