Meditation: Basics and benefitsNov 22, 2021
You don’t have to sit cross legged in a remote temple to benefit from regular meditation. In fact, this ancient practice is steadily gaining popularity around the world, and for good reason. this form of focused relaxation is incredibly beneficial for the body and mind, and can be practiced anytime, anywhere and by anyone.
The whole premise of meditation in this context is to unlock your body and mind so that you feel calm and confident when you run, move and live.
There are four main components that we cover in our meditation classes:
- Having a relaxed, neutral spine
- Having a relaxed diaphragm (this is key to having a connected core that supports your spine)
- Practicing slow, gentle breathing
- Ensuring there’s a slightly higher amount of carbon dioxide in the blood as it increases oxygenation and blood flow to the brain. We achieve this with gentle, controlled breath holding.
How does this help or translate when you exercise? If you master how to breathe slowly with a calm, neutral posture and practice with repetition of words and positive intent, this can translate to running as you create a mantra and a synergy when you move. And because meditation calms the mind before a run, you’ll experience the joy of just being, of staying present and in the moment.
Learning to be calm
In a frenetic world with so much on the go 24/7, many of us struggle to be calm. But when you meditate, you learn the posture or technique of being calm. This is a great gift as it alters your perspective and allows you the space to pause and reflect. This quieter headspace often results in more clarity and the ability to seamlessly solve problems and find creative solutions.
More benefits of meditation
While daily meditation is ideal, just 30 minutes of meditation once or twice a week will help to calm your nervous system and achieve that connection and synergy in your mind and body.
Here are a few more key benefits:
- Meditation teaches you to be open in your heart and mind by learning and experimenting through processes.
- Meditation with breathing techniques helps to down regulate your nervous system, especially after a stressful event such as a race or busy period at work.
- Kneeling in an upright position helps to improve your posture – and if your posture improves, your movement improves.
- Meditation allows you to relax and soften your breath without forcing anything. (Breathwork within meditation should be free and natural)
- It boosts your mood, sleep and energy levels
- It helps you to be more confident and comfortable in your own skin. This is a brilliant tool for athletes as you can practice affirmations and visualisations within a calm, quiet space.
- Meditation encourages you to master nasal breathing which has many benefits. I talk about the advantages of nasal breathing in this blog. The aim of nasal breathing in meditation is to breathe long, slow, soft and deep.
While it’s okay to lie on your back with your knees bent, it’s best to meditate in a calm, relaxed upright posture where your spine muscles support you. I find this works best if you kneel Japanese style, using a soft round cushion as a saddle between your knees.
This allows you to relax your hips and let your spine “float” up and out of your posture. (I demonstrate this in the video below). I call this the position of calm as it helps you get into that relaxed state faster. It also ensures your pelvic floor and diaphragm are relaxed.
Getting into this position and practicing meditation as often as you can will help you breathe fluidly. Freeing up breath is how you learn to find flow and rhythm in running, and indeed life. It’s how you learn to relax and recover faster between workouts and stressful periods. In fact, it’s the very source of inspiration.
WATCH this video below for a full guided meditation session where I uncover the basics:
Sign up here to for access to my Monday meditation classes if you'd like to integrate this type of deep relaxation into your life.
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