Turn Recovery Inside Out with Meditation
Hopefully, after a hard effort you focus on recovery. You pull out your massage tools, put your legs up the wall, book your PT, plunge into an ice bath. It’s no surprise that, when it comes to recovery, your first response is to focus on restoring your muscles. But have you considered the fact that your muscles are actually the quickest part of your physiology to recover because they receive the most direct blood flow?
The less obvious, but equally impactful, way to restore your body and mind after a big output is to shift your focus to your nervous system. Everything starts there.
Time to flip your perspective inside out.
In simple terms, you have governing systems: The Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS), which is in charge of “fight or flight” response, and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), which is in charge of “rest and digest” — also known as your relaxation response.
In this world of constant activity and stress (workouts, news, inboxes, commutes, relationships, advertising…), most of us have an incredibly strong and chronically overly stimulated Sympathetic Nervous System. We know fight or flight — we’re always ready and going, even when the fight is over and there's nothing to run from. While your SNS is critical for performance (not to mention survival), if you get stuck in that mode — which is common — you can't recover effectively. What needs to be strengthened is your Parasympathetic Nervous System so that you can effectively transition to rest and optimize recovery.
Luckily, meditation is one of the most powerful and accessible ways to train and strengthen your PNS. You can use it anytime, anywhere to turn your recovery inside out. When you deliberately rest after a hard effort you’ll more effectively absorb the work you've done. And when you can focus your mind using your breath you can find calm even in competition, reserving precious energy for the final push.
In sport and life, meditation helps you:
- Manage Pain
- Increase Emotional Stability
- Transcend Unproductive Habits
- Strengthen Your Immune System
- Improve Sleep
- Tap Into Your State of Flow + Flow on Purpose
* See page Chapter 2, and pages 20 + 21 in Work IN for even more on these benefits.
While you absolutely can practice meditation for hours, and do a week long retreat, the best and most accessible way to use meditation for just 5–10 daily. Consistent practice, just like your workouts, done day after day no matter what, is how you’ll train your body and mind to flip from stress to rest. You’ll start maximizing the training you’re already doing, absorbing the work more fully, and see huge results.
Where to start? Work IN is dedicated to the practice of real recovery — including resetting your nervous system — and also combines mental focus training with physical relaxation practices to ignite the recovery response. The book is full of specific meditation techniques and easy-to-use practices to strengthen your PNS.
Jasyoga Video also has 14 meditations (+ more coming soon!) specific to athletes — all 10 minutes or less. Get into the book and videos to optimize your recovery today with our special a promotion that gives you a year of Jasyoga Video + Work IN for just $99.
Summer, and this offseason is the perfect time to start incorporating meditation into your training and life before your busy life ramps back up in the fall. Share how you’re using meditation with #myworkIN and #athletesforyoga.