You can use a mantra (sound) to increase the benefit of exercise. Research with instruments such as the electroencephalograph or EEC, which measures electrical activity in the brain, has shown that certain mental states are beneficial to both physical and mental health. Specifically, researchers have found a very beneficial condition of “restful attention,” which is typically observed during meditation.
But restful attention can also be attained during exercise through the use of a mantra, or repeated pattern of sound. With your attention focused on your breathing, silently repeat the syllable so each time you inhale silently, and then, as you exhale, repeat the syllable hum.
By using this mantra throughout your exercise period, you can enjoy the benefits of meditation and physical activity at the same time. Remember that the best times to exercise are during the Kapha periods: 6-10 a.m. and 6-10 p.m. This is because the structure of your physiology is stronger and more tolerant at those times.
The best exercises for weight loss meet two criteria: They involve continuous activity rather than starting and stopping, and they include motion by the large muscle groups in the lower half of the body, rather than just the arms. This kind of exercise is what the word aerobic refers to.
Thus, although tennis and golf, for example, are great for relaxation, they do not fulfill the purposes of daily exercise. By keeping these points in mind and making them part of your daily exercise program, you can gain enhanced clarity of thought, refined perception by all your senses, and lowered risk from many debilitating medical conditions such as hypertension and elevated cholesterol levels.
But best of all, in terms of weight control, you can reconstitute your basal metabolic rate so that your body is burning fat all the time, not just when you’re exercising. This kind of metabolism is characteristic of anyone who has made exercise a part of his or her daily routine. It’s the fundamental difference between people who are truly “in shape” and those who follow a sedentary lifestyle.
Adapted from Perfect Weight, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 1994).