I travel often for work, and on a recent trip to the Stanford Court Hotel in San Francisco, I found a gym stacked with Peloton Bikes. I took Cody’s class while looking upon the streets of Nob Hill, and after a good sweat session, I headed out for a full day of meetings and to explore the bustling, hilly tech hub that is San Francisco. The result? I came home with a depleted body and buzzing brain. As luck would have it, the hotel also provided a meditation pillow (which, admittedly, I initially thought was a dog bed) so I gave it a sit. And with Peloton Digital in hand, I meditated for just five minutes. With the bright lights shining behind the hotel windows, my mind immediately quieted.
It clicked that it’s not just my body that needs a good workout--my mind can benefit, too. So, I added meditation to my fitness routine and learned that the simple act of mindfulness has actually made me more fit. Here’s how:
It Gives Me a Serious Boost of Energy. Meditation increases levels of energy by bringing your attention back into the present moment, interrupting that ongoing internal conversation kicking around in your head. Just five minutes of pre-workout meditation makes me feel as if I took a long, hard nap and I’m ready to hop on the Bike for my best-ever ride.
It Taught Me To Breathe Through The Rough Spots. During a recent HIIT class, I was attempting a serious thigh-burning set of wall sits. Normally, I’d be cursing my quivering muscles, but instead, I breathed through the pain with the same breath I use in meditation and was able to get through the workout easily and effectively with zero breaks. I now use the same breaths during any super-challenging workout.
It Makes Sleep a Thousand Times Better. A study on mindfulness found that participants who meditated actually fell asleep sooner and stayed asleep longer, compared to those who didn't meditate. Since I’ve started meditating (which I’ll even do lying down just before bed), my sleep has improved dramatically. And better sleep = hello, morning workouts.
I’ve Become More Focused on my Workouts. Meditation--especially before a workout--has taught me to clear my head and allows me to completely focus on every pedal stroke, rep and stride with the best possible form. This is the sort of mindfulness that (being focused on the present and not rushing haphazardly through every move) has also helped me to avoid injury.
I Chilled Out and Worked Out at the Same Time. There’s a thing called “walking meditation” which is the art of being aware while you walk. For me, this is about putting away my iPhone, and concentrating on the movement of my body while taking in my surroundings. But the best part is that while it’s meant for the mind, it’s still working the body.