Yoga and meditation are powerful when they are used alongside sport and athletic training.
Meditation isn’t just sitting around om-ing. It quietens your mind, shuts out negative mental chatter, stops you from over thinking, and allows you to lift/run/play/jump at your best.
Why do I need to meditate?
Other than aiding focus, meditation for athletes has physical benefits.
From a purely physiological perspective, meditation encourages relaxation and the cessation of muscular tension. This benefits athletic performance by:
- Preserving energy: Energy is often wasted when athletes’ muscles are continuously in a state of tension and semi-contraction.
- Reducing fatigue: Habitually tense muscles reduce circulation, resulting in a lack of oxygen and nutrients to cells and cause waste products to accumulate, leading to fatigue, aches, and pain.
- Increasing strength by healing the nervous system: Strength is NOT primarily a function of muscle size. Strength depends largely on whether muscles are powerfully contracted by an effective nervous system.
- Preventing contracture: When a muscle is in a habitual state of tension, contracture can develop where the muscle shortens and becomes less supple, less strong, and unable to absorb shock and stress.
How do I meditate?
Meditation is simple. Don’t complicate it. The whole point is that you relax and not that you spend the whole time worrying that you are doing it wrong.
- Turn off your phone and laptop, and find a quiet space where no one is going to distract you
- Find a comfortable position you can remain still in for 5-10 minutes
- Bring your awareness to your breathing and count your breath back from 100-0
- Repeat daily
To begin with, counting back from 100 will be a challenge. Your mind will wander, you’ll get restless, and all sorts of things will pop into your mind. But, each time you notice yourself drifting away, just accept the thought, let it go, and bring your awareness back to your breathing. If 100 breaths is tough to begin with, start with 50 breaths, or even 25… of just do 10 and see how it feels.
Meditation is a skill, and, just like learning any skill, it gets easier with time.