Everyone’s been there: You’re in the middle of a hard workout after a long day, when suddenly the thought “I don’t think I can do this” floats into your mind.
Sure, sometimes you can just muscle past those intrusive thoughts, but other times you need a helping hand to keep your motivation on lock—and that’s where movement mantras come in handy. Movement mantras are positive affirmations designed to simultaneously help you ward off negative thoughts and motivate you to kick your workout’s butt.
The best part? You can customize them to any workout modality, whether you’re feeling a yoga flow or a HIIT workout. For example, while you might opt for a more grounding sentiment during a vinyasa flow, it might be closer to “beast mode” energy for a lifting sesh.
Need some inspo to help you come up with some? We tapped two Nike Well Collective trainers, Clarissa Karunaratne and Briana Thompson, to give us the DL on their favorite movement mantras for their preferred workout modalities.
Mantras for yoga
When it comes to yoga, Karunaratne is a seasoned pro who uses flows to get out of her head and focus on her breath—that’s why her movement mantra during a yoga sesh is “just be.” “We’re constantly doing so much,” she says. “When I’m on my mat, it helps me tune out everything else around me and focus on my movement, breath, and fully unplug. This mental stillness also translates into my day, especially when I feel like there are things I cannot control, I come back to stillness and zoom out.”
Thompson, who uses yoga to release tension and focus inward, is a yoga newbie and says classes can feel intimidating. When she’s having doubts during a flow, she repeats “stay in my flow” to herself. “I have to consistently talk to myself to remember to remain present in my own experience,” she says.
Mantras for strength training
There’s nothing better than feeling strong during a strength training sesh, but it’s also an easy modality to psych yourself out about when you’re staring down a heavy-laden squat rack or set of dumbbells. When Karunaratne needs an extra push to keep lifting, she says “how you do anything is how you do everything” to silence the doubts. “Even on days I don’t want to try to lift heavier, I remember it’s a choice to challenge myself and see what new heights I can reach,” she says.
Mantras for cycling
Every cycling enthusiast knows there are ups and downs during every class (literally, when you’re doing hills), and when Thompson needs motivation to keep pedaling, she’ll repeat the mantra “embrace the journey.” “When I’m on the bike, I’m reminded that the ride belongs to me, and I have the freedom to chart my own course,” Thompson says. “The class is a metaphor for life’s journey, allowing the mind to wander through the destinations and aspirations I want to pursue beyond the bike.”
Mantras for running
Karunaratne turned her frenemy relationship with running into one of love by doing two things: First, by finding the right shoes (she recommends Nike’s Vaporfly 3s) and second, by telling herself “if I want something I’ve never had, I must do something I’ve never done” when she doesn’t feel like running. “I know I feel better afterwards, but sometimes the act of getting on the treadmill or putting on my running shoes for an outdoor run is challenging,” she says. “I remember that my future self needs me to choose differently.”
Mantras for Lagree
Lagree—a type of workout similar to Pilates that targets multiple muscle groups at once—is Thompson’s preferred form of strength training. The “time over tension” mentality of the class provides a welcome relief from her busy life, which is why her Lagree mantra is “time is mine.” “It’s in this unhurried pace that the magic of the workout unfolds,” she says. “I appreciate the ability to take control of the clock in this format, allowing me to escape the day’s rush while remaining firmly anchored to my fitness goals.”
No matter what kind of exercise you enjoy, creating your own movement mantras (or borrowing one of Karunaratne or Thompson’s) will help give you the motivation to power through your workout and show yourself that you can do it.