“To sweat is to pray. Sweat is holy water, prayer beads that release your past, burn karma, and purify body and soul.” ~ Gabrielle Roth
For many of us, exercise is about keeping our body in healthy and in good shape. But exercise has benefits beyond the body. It is critical to the health of our entire being, including the mind, and the spirit, as well.
When you hear people talk about being “in the zone” or in “flow,” you most often hear it from athletes.
Take a moment to reflect on when you usually find yourself falling naturally into flow. More than likely it will be when you are engaged in some type of physical activity; cleaning house, mowing the lawn, walking in nature, or playing a sport.
Why is this? Is there something about exercise that facilitates getting in this zone or into flow easier and faster?
YES, there is!
When the body is engaged in activity, the mind and spirit are stimulated and become more aware and connected.
What yoga and tai chi practitioners have understood for centuries, scientists, sports psychologists, Western athletes, and spiritual evolutionaries are recognizing now.
You do not have to be a professional athlete, or even a yoga practitioner, to reap the benefits of sacred sweat.
Sweat!? Ew! Why would I want to do that?
For several reasons! Before we talk about how to get your Sacred Sweat on, let’s talk about how sweating benefits you body, mind & soul!
DETOX THE BOD
Sweating is a part your body’s cleansing process. When you sweat, your body undergoes several processes that increase metabolism and allow for the release of toxins. We are regularly exposed to contaminants and poisons in our environment, and detoxing regularly through heating our body and sweating them out, releases them.
Cultures around the world have used sweating for detoxing through the use sweat lodges, bath houses and steam rooms. But it is easier just to get a sweat going with activity.
Detoxing clears the body –> Your brain is a part of that body–> a clear brain means faster and clearer thought processes–> faster, clearer thought processes create better connection to your intuition.
Exercising generates a lot of energy and that energy radiates out of your body and through your energy field, helping to release emotional and energetic blocks in your aura.
Balance them HORMONES!
Nothing else balances hormones as quickly or as easily as exercise. Physical activity stimulates hormones throughout the body. Stress hormones, like adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol, boost your energy to help you meet the challenges of exercise. Exercise also lowers insulin and stimulates endorphins.
When our hormones are imbalanced it affects our inner communication. We can make wrong decisions and poor choices based on emotions created by imbalanced hormones.
If you are on a conscious evolutionary path, having clear communication with a balanced body is very important.
Sweat Out the Stress
When you work up a sweat, your muscles warm up and release muscle tension brought on by stress and fatigue.
The proverbial “workout high” is a result of endorphins flooding the body.
Endorphins are your body’s natural opioids. They are secreted by the pituitary gland and affect different parts of the body in different ways. In your muscles, they affect pain perception and help increase stamina. In your brain, they act like an anti-depressant and can induce euphoria.
Exercise builds a bridge between body, mind and spirit.
It literally grows new neurons in your brain and then integrates them into the network. This increases cognitive function, providing you with more clarity and focus.
It also improves the function of glands such as the pineal gland, which is directly involved in the awakening of higher consciousness.
When our brain is functioning on all cylinders we feel more connected and in tune.
When the body stops moving thoughts stop moving, emotions stagnate, soul stops flowing. We get stuck.
When we get physical, we shift and realign our energy, loosening up stagnant areas and resistance within our energy field which helps us work through them.
Body: Temple of the soul
Those of us on a spiritual path understand that the body is a vessel for our essence, our spirit, our divine light. In order to fully experience the gift that life has to offer, it is imperative that we care for our temple.
Taking it to the Next Level
Obviously, it is important to get the recommended amount of exercise for the physical benefits it provides. But your workout is also a great time for soul-searching and developing.
So how can we maximize our workout space to help our mind and spirit?
Here are 5 ways to make sweat a spiritual practice.
#1 Work IN, not just out
Explore types of exercise that already have a spiritual aspect, such as yoga, tai chi, qigong or sacred dancing.
Yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong are all forms of moving meditation that expand your awareness while also making you healthy.
Tai Chi and Qigong are both based on the Taoist philosophy that everything in the universe is a manifestation of one life force, or “chi.” Tai chi and qigong reestablish the flow and rebalance your chi, because the flow of chi in our body is blocked it can cause illness.
Yoga, which literally means “union with God,” helps you to become conscious of your connection with spirit. Yoga practice can deliver profound insight, help you feel more grounded and make you feel “blissed-out” afterwards.
Sacred dancing is any movement that enhances a spiritual experience. Some examples would be the Native American Ghost Dance, Whirling Dervishes of the Sufis or worship dance that occurs during a worship service.
Gabrielle Roth’s 5Rhythms is a freestyle dance class designed to use the body as a spiritual path and help participants tune into their instincts and intuitions. It allows participants to express aggressiveness and vulnerability, emotions and anxieties, edges and ecstasies. Dancers find it both exhilarating and restorative.
#2 Incorporate Your Soulful Side into any exercise you already do.
Whether it is running, cycling, swimming, surfing or Zumba, movement can open us into spiritual connection.
Solitary walking is a great for developing spiritual awareness. It helps clear the mind and inspires creative thought processes, especially when walking in nature or walking in silence without the iPod. Have the “Notes” app on your phone ready to take dictation, though! Insight and inspiration will start pouring through you after about a mile.
Running really kicks in the endorphins for getting that “high.” It can also be used as an alternative to a sitting meditation, by focusing your attention on your breath and utilizing a mantra.
Group Ex Classes merging fitness with soul are popping up all over. SoulCycle transcends your regular cycling class by having you pedal on beat, sometimes with your eyes closed as instructors shout out inspirational mantras about being present and setting intentions, and figuring out how to live your life as the best version of yourself. SoulCyclists don’t just call their class a workout, they call it therapy.
#3 Set an Intention before your workout
You generate so much positive energy during a workout, why not apply it toward something with an intention? Native Americans participated in rain dances, channeling their energy to call forth rain when they needed. You can do the same. Channel that energy toward a goal you want to achieve, or toward healing a problem or emotions.
Attach a WHY to your workout: a conscious intention to grow, expand and evolve your soul and live your best life. Let your energy go forth and clear the way.
#4 Recite Mantras, Affirmations, or prayers.
This is especially effective during repetitive types of exercise, like running or swimming.
“I am healthy. I am strong.”
“I enjoy life to the fullest.”
“I make a difference.”
Or try a Bible verse, or wisdom teaching.
Affirmations or a repeated mantra can help you set the pace. Plus, the positive thoughts will manifest and sustain the positive vibes long after your workout is over.
#5 Breathe & Rest
The simplest way to take your workout to a deeper place is to focus on your breath, the same way you would during meditation.
Focus on and control your breathing. Breathe with intention. Not only will it help you execute your movement, it will give you that extra kick of endurance.
Make sure to take the time after your workout, to slow down, stretch, and quiet the mind. In Yoga this period is called, Shavasana: a time of rest. You lay in corpse pose and totally let go of life and your body.
Why not add the power of Shavasana into your other workouts as well? We totally underestimate the power of that quiet time and rarely take time to relax. Take the time to tune in to the essence of who you are, and fully enjoy the pulse of your heartbeat, the rhythm of your breath, and the surge of endorphins. Become present. Let go of problems, your to-do list, or the general overwhelm of life.
More and more people are turning their fitness routine into a spiritual practice. But, it doesn’t have to be an official “spiritual workout” to clear your mind and connect with your soul. You can reflect on a walk. You can make nature a sanctuary on a hike. You can increase your vibration on a run.
We are sacred beings. Remembering that can cultivate flow and make more meaning in all areas of your life.
For more information about how to cultivate flow in your life download the FREE EBOOK ~ SOUL FLOW! It’s a great guide to establishing a SOUL FLOW practice that is perfect for you.
Until next ~