I Meditated Before My Workout And It Helped Me Nail My Handstand
As a yoga teacher, meditation is an extremely important part of my daily practice.
Essentially, meditation seeks to transform the mind in some way through a strong, clarifying, deeply life-altering practice.
The ability to sit alone with your thoughts and become comfortable with the stillness and embrace the silence has a massive amount of benefits.
Many (including myself) are guilty of skipping out on meditation because of "lack of time" -- but it's really because it gets pretty uncomfortable sitting with your thoughts and nothing else for even just a few minutes each day.
To be quite honest with you, I didn't expect much to come out of this short experiment.
But after a week of sticking to this regimen, the results truly blew my mind.
Here's how meditating for just three minutes before each of my daily workouts affected my mood, mindfulness, and movement (in and out of the gym).
This was both my first day meditating and my first day back in the gym after awhile of neglecting both.
That day, I was kind of feelin' a sweaty, challenging HIIT workout (I'm not crazy, I swear).
I was planning on meditating in my car before I stepped into the gym, because honestly I felt kind of embarrassed to sit on the ab mat for three minutes, breathing deeply.
But I decided to say "f*ck it," and I challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone.
May I say, it was totally worth it. Not only did I feel both relaxed and ready to slay my circuits -- the workout itself felt amazing. So hard, but so much more rewarding than ever before.
I don't know if it was my seated meditation, or the fact that it was my first HIIT workout in awhile, but I found myself suddenly excited to incorporate mindfulness into the rest of my week.
My friend and I decided to go on a hike, and she agreed to join in on my meditation before we got started on the trail.
We sat on a log at the trail entrance and, once again, I set a timer for three minutes.
The subtle sounds of nature soothed my mind and my body, so much so that the six miles we ended up hiking turned out to be more blissful than brutal.
Sure, it was a bit challenging, but whenever things got difficult, I returned to that same breath I used earlier while I was meditating: even and controlled.
A kind of mental clarity and control washed over me in a natural, fluid way, and made this outdoor workout not only tolerable, but peaceful and rewarding.
I was still riding an amazing natural high from the first two days of my experiment.
For Wednesday, I opted to go to one of my favorite yoga studios for a class and followed that up with a short ab circuit.
I typically meditate before and after yoga most of the time, but the ab circuit was a new challenge I decided to add into my routine that day.
I won't lie; that ab workout was rough AF, but I managed to make it through without cutting the circuit short (something I'm absolutely guilty of doing a lot of the time).
Perhaps my daily meditation practices were able to fuel that mind-over-matter persistence.
I couldn't wait to see what the rest of the week had in store for me.
Meditating before my vinyasa yoga class felt as if it came much more naturally than usual.
I felt less of a need to fidget and make adjustments to my clothing or hair, and I was beginning to genuinely look forward to this peaceful stillness every single day.
After attending a local yoga class, I decided to follow up again with another ab circuit.
While I usually pause for more than the "allowed" minute between circuits, this time, I powered right through and found myself complaining internally a lot less than I did on Wednesday.
Overall, my state of mind just felt less cluttered and more energized.
I decided to give myself a real challenge by adding some heavy weights to my routine.
One of my friends gave me his leg day workout to attempt.
Honestly, I'd never done a deadlift in my life. I've avoided trying them because I never wanted to look totally clueless or inexperienced.
But I threw my self-doubt out the window, and I did those deadlifts without fear -- and guess what? No one gave a sh*t about my form or how much weight I was lifting.
Thank you, meditation, for giving me courage to do the things that scare the crap out of me.
This was technically my rest day, but it ended up being my biggest meditation breakthrough of the entire week.
I started off the day with my usual three minutes of breathing, and then I headed to the beach with my BFF.
We took some yoga pictures when we were there, and before this week, I would've never dreamed of taking my handstand practice away from the wall, and just opted for a familiar, "safe" pose.
But on Sunday, it was as if my newfound focus and clarity made me just go for it.
And you know what? I freaking nailed my handstand.
Suck it, fear.
If there's anything meditation taught me this past week, it's the importance of getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.
And that's what makes life so damn exciting, isn't it?