How to Incorporate Meditation into Your Workout
We’re all aware of the myriad benefits of meditation – a calmer mind, reduced anxiety and better breathing – but it’s not just your state of mind and stress levels that can reap the rewards, your workout can too.
The link between meditation and exercise
Although you may never have linked the two together, the benefits of both exercise and meditation are strikingly similar. When it comes to improving mental health, exercise and meditation help by reducing stress and anxiety, promoting better sleep and encouraging better concentration and mood. The impact on physical health is also significant with both practises improving cognitive function and slowing neurological decline by boosting oxygen-rich blood flow to the brain.
Why meditate before your workout
It might feel counterintuitive to practise such mindfulness before you throw yourself into a demanding exercise routine but calming your body and brain before you work out can improve focus and concentration during your session. It’s also a good way to guide your breath into a more engaged state, something that will enhance your performance in the gym too. And given the very essence of meditation is about taking you out of a ruminative state of mind and into a more focused state of being, the clarity that you’ll inevitably achieve will only support and enhance your workout. The mind-body connection involved in meditation has another powerful impact on your gym routine as research shows it has a measurable effect on your brain and specifically the functions involved in muscle control and sensory perception, something which might help reduce the risk of injuries.
Why meditate after your workout
If you prefer the idea of using meditation to help you wind down after your workout, there are still plenty of benefits. One major one is the full body relaxation you’ll experience after you meditate, something which ought to help with your post-workout recovery. If you’ve had a particularly intensive exercise session, meditation can also help reduce cortisol levels that will naturally have risen because of the stress on your body. The innate introspectiveness of the practise, coupled with the breathwork it demands, means that it meditation also triggers the parasympathetic nervous system which promotes rest and relaxation and helps clear the cascade of stress hormones in your system quicker.