Meditation and Sport

Recently we had the great privilege to be a part of ‘Terug op die Veld,’ a gameshow in which
20 former rugby players were given 13 weeks to get back into their best shape possible. Yoga
and meditation were offered to the players as a part of their come-back training. It was
wonderful to be invited to be a part of such a prestigious show and even better to see that
yoga and meditation are making impactful movement into the sports scene, and for very good
reason!

There is no surprise that more and more athletes are recognising the benefits of yoga and
meditation and incorporating these powerful practises into their training as a way to enhance
their performance. Yoga and meditation are very effective practises which help to reduce
stress so that high performance sports pressure can be alleviated and channelled in a more
positive way.

‘High levels of stress decrease your ability to maintain focus and concentration. Of course,
stress can be a helpful tool when used correctly; but when it’s not, it can not only impact your
performance, but your life.’ – Dr. Kristin Keim

What is meditation?

Meditation is a tool we can use to empty the mind of limiting thoughts and beliefs. One of the
greatest obstacles to reaching our highest potential is the self-limiting thoughts that we believe
about ourselves, such as ‘I am not good enough,’ ‘I am a failure,’ or ‘I am weak’ and so on. We
can be our greatest ally or our worst enemy! Firstly, these thoughts are not true, for who we are
is so magnificent and powerful that words couldn’t possibly do us any justice at all and
secondly these thoughts inhibit or limit us from attaining our highest dreams and potential.
Meditation helps us to move beyond these thoughts so that we can access our own Higher
Awareness and operate from this place of power. Through meditation we become detached
from the voice of our ego, which tends to try and keep us small, and reconnects us to that
place of greatness, stillness and JOY. It is from this place that we start to embody and perform
as the magnificent beings we are.

How can meditation enhance sports performance?

Top sportsmen such as LeBron James, Novak Djokovic, Callum Wilson and the late Kobe
Bryant all incorporate or have incorporated meditation as a part of their training regime and
there is very good reason why. Here are some ways in which meditation can improve sports
performance.

1. Stress reduction – Due to high performance pressure it is easy for athletes to become
overwhelmed and anxious, which can impact performance. It is well known that meditation
helps to alleviate stress because through mediation we transcend the thoughts which make
us feel anxious and stressed. Mediation reconnects us to that place of peace and calm.

2. Resilience to set-backs – Things don’t always go according to plan and in fact it is quite
common that those who succeed tend to have failed many times prior to their success.
Meditation is an incredible tool to help us overcome setbacks and failures so that we can pick ourselves up and try again.

3. Better recovery time – Injury is more than likely a part of the course when it comes to any
sport. Luckily meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce physical pain and
decrease the length of time it takes for an injury to heal. How? Meditation stimulates the
nervous system which is the system responsible for taking care of and healing injury.
Meditation also helps one to deal with the emotions one might feel as a result of injury.

4. Increased confidence – Meditation has been shown to increase confidence in oneself and
it is when we feel confident, that we relax, trust in our own abilities and open up into our
true power.

5. Improved concentration and focus – This can mean the difference between scoring that
goal, saving that wicket, or balancing that triple turn. Laser focus, especially for high
performance athletes, can be the deciding factor which sets one a part.

6. Emotional balance – High performance certainly comes with heightened emotions and it’s
easy to get swept up in the emotional roller coaster ride of performance highs and lows.
Meditation helps one to remain calm and centred and unattached to the ebb and flow of
sport trials and tribulations.

7. Enhanced endurance, energy and strength – Mostly meditation takes us out of energy-
sapping fight or flight response, which frees up so much energy within the body and mind so that we can train harder and for longer.

8. General sense of wellbeing and relaxation – Meditation has been shown to increase
serotonin production which boosts good moods, happiness and peace of mind. When we
feel good, we instantly perform better.

Meditation can mean the difference between an average performer and a champion! So if you
are an inspiring athlete or an existing high performer, we highly suggest adding meditation to
your daily training schedule.

‘The body benefits from movement and the mind benefits from stillness.’
Sakyong Mipham, Running with the Mind of Meditation: Lessons for Training Body and Mind