A regular workout routine is essential to a healthy life. We know that regular exercise, along with good eating habits, can help your body function correctly. Just as a sensible diet impacts your health and fitness goals recovery is another important aspect of your normal exercise schedule.
Recovery can be achieved in several ways including saunas, steam rooms, massages, and even an ice bath. Meditation is one of the best ways you can help your aching muscles bounce back after an extreme workout. All you need is some quiet, a natural scent, and a comfortable seat and you can meditate.
How To Meditate
Sit up on a chair or cross legged on a mat. Lay you hands to your side and close your eyes. Take in a deep breath through your nose and count to eight or ten. Hold it for a moment and then breathe out through your mouth counting the same as you did for your breath intake.
You can imagine the breath moving through your body and bringing oxygen to your tired muscles.
Diminishes Excess Cortisol
When we exercise our bodies create the hormone cortisol, which is known as “the stress hormone.” This may seem like an oxymoron since we are told that exercise reduces stress. Still, when the muscles are working they become stressed and cortisol production is the result.
Meditation can lower the level of cortisol in your blood, which is great news for those of us who enjoy getting a good workout in. Five minutes of mindfulness will bring down the levels of the stress hormone.
There are negative aspects to excess cortisol other than stress. This can lead to more fat in the abdominal region, add to illness and injury, and cause you to have a poor night’s sleep.
Pain is something that comes hand in hand with exercising. What’s the old phrase? No pain, no gain? That idiom has been around forever for a reason. Because it is true. The only way we get the best out of our muscles is by pushing them as far as they can go. When we do this, our muscles get strained.
Aches and pains are the calling card of a good workout but why deal with pain when you can cut it down? Meditation has been proven to reduce pain for those who deal with it chronically. If you work out regularly, then you suffer from chronic pain.
Stress of the muscles is directly connected to the pain you feel when working out so, when your stress levels begin to reduce the pain you feel will subside.
Less OTC Meds
When we are feeling pain it’s instinctive for some of us to grab the bottle of Ibuprofen or another over the counter remedy for inflammation. As you dive deeper into your meditation practice your pain will lessen naturally and you’ll find that you reach for that little white bottle less and less.
Recovery time after your workouts will also increase when you add a few minutes of meditation after you finish. The same way you stretch your muscles when exercising so that you don’t implement any shock on your muscles, your brain is also an important muscle and needs a bit of care when we push out body.
Types of Meditation
Now that we know the benefits, there are several types of meditation you can adopt, so we are going to give you a quick overview.
- Loving-Kindness Meditation – This type asks the practitioner to focus on feelings of love and compassion for those around you. Those affected by depression, anxiety, or PTSD would benefit from this type.
- Progressive Relaxation – Body scan meditation is perfect for post workout. While breathing you focus on your body and scan every muscle. Experts suggest you imagine a wave moving through your body. This is the type recommended for chronic pain .
- Mindfulness – This type of meditation is good for those moments in your day when the stress gets to be a bit too much. It calls for you to be in the moment and not focused on the past or the future. It is helpful with improving focus, memory and lessen negative emotions.
- Breath Awareness – Here we have a type that works along with mindfulness. You are called to focus on the breath and count in and out as your breath. In the meantime you should ignore any thoughts other than your breath and your counting. It helps with concentration and anxiety.
- Zen – Also known as Zazen, this type of meditation that might be included in a Buddhist focused practice. A teacher is essential for this type of meditation due to the specific steps and postures included.
- Transcendental – When practicing this type of meditation one is attempting to rise above one’s present self and reach a specific spiritual plane. Guidance is required but mantras are included that is designed for you specifically from information like the year you were born. Some contemporary practices allow the practitioner choose their mantra.
Meditation is nothing new and there are few people who have not heard of it and know the basics of how it is done. Breathe in – breath out. Now that you’ve read the benefits this practice can bring to your muscles after a workout you should have a deeper insight into why meditation has been around for so long.
Pair that with a healthy diet and a good work-life balance and you’ll rule the world.