The practice can power athletes in motion.
Meditation has become easier and more accessible than ever thanks to the growing presence of apps and fitness classes that incorporate the practice. “Meditation is in the same place yoga was 15 years ago,” says Michael Gervais, a New York City-based yoga instructor and creator of Equinox's Headstrong class, which merges movement and mindfulness to train the brain. “Suddenly, everyone wants to be doing it.”
Though the practice has been shown to help with everything from reducing blood pressure to easing anxiety and depression, research on how it can aid fit bodies has only recently started to emerge. A study in The Sport Journal found that athletes who practiced mindfulness meditation techniques for 10 to 30 minutes over the course of 12 weeks were more satisfied with their workouts.
Here, more ways athletes can reap the benefits.
Whether you’re meditating before, during, or after a workout, the point is to get present, says Megan Roup, founder of The Sculpt Society and group fitness instructor for Project by Equinox. One of the easiest ways to do that is by focusing on the breath, which automatically causes it to become deeper. “It’s incredible how easy it is to change your mental and emotional state just by taking a moment to breathe,” says Roup. Doing so can create clarity and maybe even help you accomplish your fitness goals (of running a 5K in under 20 minutes, for example). “During a pre-workout meditation, imagine how achieving your goal will make you feel, and soak up that state,” says Roup. “If you can visualize yourself already there, then you know it truly is possible.”
Download the meditation that Roup and Gervais created specially for Furthermore in partnership with ASICS here. Use it before a workout to center yourself or even during to re-charge and finish strong.
Meditation boosts concentration.
Gervais sees meditation as a tool that can help athletes take their game up a notch and outperform their competitors. “When you’re competing at a high level, the difference between a number one and number two player is so microscopic that in order to win, you need to be able to finetune your performance,” he explains. “Meditation helps you do that because it teaches you to concentrate so you can hone in on those little tweaks that will allow you to be as efficient as possible.”
It reduces pre-race nerves.
Because meditation puts you in a calm state, it’s also good for settling pre-race jitters. “Nerves can be a good thing since they can even help motivate you, but you want to be able to control them,” says Gervais. That’s why many elites take the time to visualize their performance during a competition beforehand.
You’ll prevent injury.
The Journal of Cognitive Enhancement showed that athletes who practice meditation for 12 minutes a day may be better able to withstand the mental demands of strenuous physical training. “A lot of the clients I work with meditate before a workout to calm their bodies and minds. Not only does this help conserve energy, which can prevent burnout and injury, but it also helps the mind manage any discomfort that may arise,” says Daniel Giordano, a physical therapist in New York City.
Meditation speeds recovery.
“Muscle regeneration happens when the brain is in the parasympathetic state, so meditation is almost like a hack for recovery,” explains Gervais. “Increasing your efficiency to get to a parasympathetic state means increasing your efficiency in being able to recover.” Giordano agrees: “I have a lot of people now who say their recovery day is doing meditation or yoga.”
THE CURRENTS OF 2018
Currents: The Trends Trainers Live By
Current #1: Maximize Your Run Commute
Current #2: Diversify Your Recovery
Current #3: Why Runners Are Going Faster and Shorter
Current #4: Meditate Pre-Workout