meditation

Movement Practice after Training

Recently I have gotten in the habit of committing to a movement practice after my daily training, or exercise regimen. Movement practice can be anything in the realm of yoga, pilates, etc. I was turned on to the Gaiam Yoga Studio app. I really wasn't big on this kind of thing before but the ease of which you can use it any place at any time has become very useful. I think the thing that people don't realize about practices such as yoga, is that they are just that, practices. In fact the whole point of yoga for me has been about improving each pose over the course of what has turned into many years. I am nowhere near a professional, but I don't intend to be. I do however have the confidence to now perform many poses better than even a month ago. 

Yoga and exercise should be sacred to each individual in the sense of being able to help each person improve themselves in some way. These are more than putting your body through physical training. In fact both have become meditative over the years for me. If I go a day without doing one or the other I feel "off". I think that yoga on some level is for every individual. Most humans can't say that they don't need to improve their flexibility or ability to be calm under stress. Yoga helps both. Try the app out, it can be as easy or as hard as you desire. The bottom line with movement practices is that in order to make it a regular habit you must commit to it and continue working on it every day.

 

Why Athletes Should Try Meditating

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I don't exactly know why or how I started meditating for the first time. I remember that I was kind of embarrassed and would do it away from people, in hindsight it was something that by no means anyone should be embarrassed by.

I'm going on about a year or so consistently meditating every morning. I don't necessarily do it for a long time and with the help of iPhone apps it is easy to have a choice in regard to time and if it's a guided meditation or not. Personally I have found that guided meditation (where someone talks you through it) is an easier way to get started and you won't feel like you don't know what your doing. Even though there is no "wrong" way to meditate. 

For me it has provided me some mental clarity before I start my day. I recently heard it referred to as a "warm bath for the mind" and I couldn't explain it any better. It's relaxing and stress relieving if even only done for a few minutes. These reasons are why I think athletes should utilize this undervalued tool in their daily training.

As athletes move from competitive youth and high school sports environments into ultra competitive situations in college and maybe even professionally, stress becomes a real issue. Stress of performing well or living up to expectations. Stress of balancing an academic life, a personal life and life on the field/court. I wish I would have had the insight into this practice while I was experiencing this during my time at UIC. I know it would have helped because I know how it helps me currently. Meditation as a term can turn people off because they think it's "spiritual" or something of the like. Meditation is spending time in quiet thought or relaxing, it is what you make it.

My advice to athletes of all ages and levels is to try meditating for a few weeks and see what you think. Don't stop because you think "you're not good at it" or "you can't do it right". You will feel this but you can do it, it just takes practice. Like anything good in life this too takes effort but in the case of meditation the effort becomes relaxation.

For more information on meditation and athletes check out this article on high performance psychologist Michael Gervais and the Seattle Seahawks.

Here is the app I use for my daily meditation, it's free. Insight Timer. Other good ones include Calm and Stop, Breathe, & Think.