Building a fitter physique actually starts in the bedroom; you reap most of the rewards from exercise during quality sleep. So by carving out seven to nine hours each night to rest, you’re doing your athletic efforts a service. When you sleep, growth hormone, a key player for muscle growth and regeneration, is released, according to Matt Delaney, national manager of innovation and sleep coach for Equinox. On top of that, a good night’s slumber can improve motor skills, cognitive function, and immunity—all crucial factors for athletic performance, per Delaney.
Meditation is a tried-and-true way to prime your body for that well-deserved slumber. The practice helps you tap into the parasympathetic nervous system and enables you to relax and let go of stress. You can take it to the next level by layering in manifestation—a way to practically apply the benefits of meditation by focusing on something you want to cultivate, such as better physical performance. Whether your specific goal is more energy in your workouts, a weightlifting or running PR, or a yoga skill, it begins with increasing physical vitality, something you can do while being completely still, says Michael Gervais, yoga instructor, creator of Equinox’s HeadStrong meditations, and director of group fitness talent and development in New York City.
The meditation above, by Gervais, will help you do just that. “You’ll start by noticing any sensations you’re feeling in your body to call attention to your physical presence,” says Gervais. After a calming breathing exercise, he’ll guide you through a head-to-toe body scan to allow you to be more in touch with your whole being. You’ll finish in a completely relaxed state and drift off to a physically- and mentally-restorative sleep. Per Gervais, get better sleep a few times a week, and you’ll see the effects in the gym within a month. —Caitlin Carlson