3 min read


By Janine Rotter, Director of Fitness Nutrition for UNBOWED

And the Ways to Harness a Mind-Body Connection During Exercise 

For so many years TV shows and magazines led us to believe that only suburban homemakers practice yoga and that only hippies meditate but we are finally seeing a shift that there's far less stigma than ever before.

And here's the reality. Yoga and mediation are two methods to strengthen the mind-body connection that can be used by anyone. That’s right, anyone. 

Applying these to physical fitness. When you listen to your body and mind, real listening can take your exercise to new levels. 

Mind-Body Connection 

We’ve all be mentally stressed at some point. Some people associate stress with causing headaches, upper back pain, or even acne. It is the result of the mind-body connection. 

Our mind and body are designed for a simpatico relationship. One feeds off the other.  

Thoughts, feelings, and attitudes can affect our bodies, negatively or positively. Likewise, diet and exercise can impact our mental state. 

For example, by practicing the mindset of body positivity, you are more likely to care for the temple that is your body physically. 

Mind-Body Health Benefits 

According to the Cleveland Clinic, mind-body mindfulness provides numerous benefits to the body, including: 

  • Decrease in anxiety 
  • Decrease of pain 
  • Better sleep 
  • Stronger immune system 
  • Increased sense of control and well-being 

Correctional officers that used the Heart Math mind-body technique in a 2009 study experienced less stress and improved cholesterol, glucose, heart rate, and blood pressure. 

Mind Not Brain 

When discussing the mind-body connection, the University of Minnesota reminds us that the idea of our mind is more than our brain.  

“The mind consists of mental states such as thoughts, emotions, beliefs, attitudes, and images.” The brain is merely the physical mechanism to experience these thoughts and emotions. 

Mind-Body Medicine 

Western medicine has convinced us that the body is separate from the mind. Science and medical doctors have made huge advancements that should not be diminished. Yet, the mind should not be overlooked. 

James Lake M.D., clinical assistant professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, and James S. Gordon, M.D., a Harvard-educated professor of psychiatry and family medicine at Georgetown University Medical School, are on the forefront on the movement supporting the mind-body connection. 

Lake regularly writes articles related to Integrative Mental Health Care. He supports collaborative care (physical and mental health problems in the same visit), and using relaxation and mind-body practices for insomnia. 

Gordon is the founder of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine. CMBM believes in educating medical professionals in the field of mind-body medicine. The center uses “evidence-based strategies to relieve stress and promote lifelong health. 

Yes, real science supports the mind-body connection. It is not just made-up shit. 

Mind-Body Exercises 

The goal of mind-body exercises, (also called therapies), is to create a circular cycle of care. The mind impacts the body, which in turn affects the mind again. Think of it as the Circle of Life (cue the Lion King music). 

A quick Google search will tell you to practice yoga or Tai Chi to increase the mind-body connection. Those are great options, but more exist. 

  • Meditation 

According to CMBM, meditation “quiets the stress response, making it easier for us to accept and put our emotions in perspective.”  

  • Guided imagery 

Research has found that listening to a guided-imagery recording can reduce pain, anxiety, and stress. 

Practice guided imagers using the Headspace or Smiling Mind mediation apps.   

  • Relaxation Breathing 

Practice inhaling for 3-4 seconds and exhaling for 6-7 seconds.   

  • Yoga 

Early studies have shown that breathing-based yoga reduces PTSD symptoms. 

Explore addition mind-body exercise to find what works best for you.   

The Unique Power of You 

You are strong enough and powerful enough to achieve your goals and dreams.  

Believe in the power of your mind. Harness the connection of your mind and body to accomplish new feats. 

Become intuitive like the wolf. Listen to your mind, and trust your instinct.  

You’re an animal, act like one.