4 Ways Meditation Can Hack Exercise

Table of Contents

How Can Meditation Help Me Exercise Better?

All the best sportsmen and women will tell you that having the right mindset can determine whether you push through that last 50m of a run, complete a yoga practice or cycle that little bit further. In many cases, having mental clarity and focus can often be factors that boost your physical exercise.

As the mind and body become more synchronised, you’ll see and feel the benefits.

Meditation is a massive way to help improve your physical exercise given that it’s a huge de-stressor. If you can take a few minutes to meditate before you exercise, you’ll feel more relaxed and concentrate better, putting to bed daily thoughts or concerns.

When you meditate parts of the brain that usually deal with planning, reasoning or placing you in time start to slow down. Your mind will feel a sense of clarity, and this is the optimal time to focus on exercise.

Breathing

Breathing is a simple yet really powerful way to help you become more mindful when you exercise. 

  1. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in through the nose. Feel the air enter your body and literally move into every inch of your body. Hold that breath for 5 seconds. 

  2. Exhale the breath through your mouth, counting slowly for another 5 seconds. Every time you breathe out, release any anxious thoughts or concerns.

  3. Repeat this breathing exercise. 

  4. Focus on your breath, and in doing so, you’ll become more focused. 

  5. When you feel an overwhelming sense of calm, then it’s time to begin your exercise. 
4 Ways Meditation Can Hack Exercise -Breathing
Breathing practices can help you remain mindful while exercising.

No Pain, No Gain

Meditating before you exercise will get you in the right mindset, but remaining mindful throughout your exercise is also important.

In fact, meditation has proven to help with pain relief – by simply refocusing on one’s breath you’re making your brain focus on another sensation rather than pain.

Over time, the neural pathway sending pain signals can become less engrained as you retrain your brain to focus on something else (such as, different bodily sensations, breathing, the end goal of your exercise, if you’re outside – nature, the feeling of the wind on your body etc…).

Another important meditation technique called a body scan can help connect your mind to the physical.

While you’re exercising, begin at the top of your head and slowly move down to your eyes, nose, ears, throat, neck, shoulders etc…all the way to your legs – thighs, shins and feet, noting how every inch of your body feels.

It sounds like a lot to do, but if for example, you’re running, just try it and note your bodily sensations. Wherever you’re feeling discomfort or pain, take a deep inhale through the nose and feel like you’re dispelling those sensations as you exhale our from your mouth.

As you become more familiar with scanning your body, you may decide to focus on certain areas. Hold onto good feelings, like how your spine feels long and stretched, how you can feel your heart pumping, how your arms and shoulders feel heavier and more relaxed and so on.

4 Ways Meditation Can Hack Exercise -Pain
Remaining mindful can help you manage pain during a workout.

What is Walking Meditation?

Walking is part of daily life for most of us, but what if we can become more mindful while walking?

The idea of walking meditation actually comes from Buddhism to help you feel more balanced, calm and literally grounded, it can also help you become more aware of your body, thoughts and surroundings.

The beauty of walking meditation is that you can do it anywhere, whether you’re in a crowd or by yourself, in the city or countryside.

The most important thing is to stay connected to how your legs and feet feel, and how you’re connecting with the ground beneath your feet.

Walking meditation is commonly combined with long periods of sitting meditation, but you can happily focus on just the walking for everyday’s purpose.

Try this walking meditation:

  1. Find somewhere you can walk for at least 15 steps, if possible, a place where you can observe your paces. It doesn’t have to be a long stretch as the most important thing is that you can retrace your steps.

     

  2. Walk at your normal pace, if not a tiny bit slower. Steadily walk those 15 paces and and then take a breath; repeat or retrace those same steps.

     

  3. As you take each step, focus on feelings you would normally be unaware of, such as your breath, how your legs and feet feel, how your body feels upright, and your surroundings and environment.

     

  4. Walk as you normally do, but just become more aware of your foot making contact with the earth, and how the foot moves from the heal, over the arch to the toes.

     

  5. If you’re getting distracted, just refocus on any of the above feelings to bring you back to your walking meditation. 
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Yoga and Meditation

Like peanut butter and jelly, yoga and meditation also go hand in hand.

There are deep elements of meditation ingrained into yoga from mindfulness to breathing, to enhancing a calm and stress free mind and body.

One major difference between yoga and meditation is that yoga is physical (asana), although yoga poses often require balance and focus, stemming from the power of the mind.

The question is how can we use meditation better to enhance our yoga practise?

  1. Allow your breath to guide you: yogis commonly use a type of breathing called Ujayi breath, where the inhale comes through the nose and you fill up the rib case and belly, and the exhale moves through the throat, out through the nose again. There’s an audible sound from the throat when the breath is released. Think about how Darth Vader sounds! Ujayi breath helps release tension from the body and help balance out the body’s temperature while warming up your core. Just as in any meditation breathing, you will also help focus and calm the mind

     

  2. Choose a mantra: this can be any phrase or saying that you choose to help your yoga practise. It’s particularly useful to repeat an affirmative saying if you find any part of your yoga practise to be challenging.

     

  3. Recognise all the sensations in your body – meditation has taught us to accept and compartmentalise different sensations that we’re feeling in our body. As you practise yoga use your ujayi breath to refocus your mind when you’re feeling challenged.

     

  4. Free yourself from noisy and anxious thought through meditation, using breathing exercises, focusing on other sensations of the body, for instance. As the mind calms, the body will move more freely.

Take any MindEasy courses for free

Take any MindEasy courses for free

Key Facts

  1. Having the right mindset can determine how far you can push your limits.

  2. Having the right mindset can determine how far you can push your limits.

  3. Breathing exercises are great way to stay mindful while exercising.

  4. Meditation can help control pain relief.

  5. Ujayi breath is a technique used in Yoga to remain mindful of your body.