Guest Article by Katie at garagegympower.com
Let’s play a little game.
What are the first 5 words of phrases that come to mind when I say CrossFit?
Go ahead, name them.
Was Meditation on your list??
If you think like me, meditation probably did not make it to the top 5 list.
You may change your mind after hearing me out. I recently learned that meditation can help a CrossFit athlete in many ways. I will list what I believe are the top three.
3 Reasons CrossFitters MUST Meditate
1. Breathing makes us better athletes
If you currently meditate, you may be aware meditation can involve focusing on your breathing.
Mark Devine talks to us about what he calls “tactical breathing” in this video:
Mr. Devine explains that with something as critical as breathing, it is crucial that we take the time train for breathing.
Navy seals learn tactical breathing to help them remain calm during fire fights and other high stress situations.
Tactical breathing involves breathing deep, into the belly, diaphragm and chest in three steps. The breath is released in order of chest, diaphragm and belly. Breathe through the nose because this releases trace Nitrogen Oxide and stimulates nerve cells behind the sternum, that engage the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms you.
The mechanism Mr. Devine is talking about involves the vagus nerve, which sends messages to the heart, lungs and digestive tract.
I did a little research and found a study that stated “The paranasal sinuses appear to be large contributors to this Nitric Oxide”
Most Interesting and exciting thing I found:
This paper says “The sinus epithelium synthesizes NO continuously. The paranasal sinus cavities form a compartmentalized reservoir of NO, which is released discontinuously in boli after an opening of the ostium. Ostium opening can be induced by sound vibration, either internal (humming) or external (an acoustic vibration added to the in-breath)”
So, in layman’s terms, the cell lining on the inside of the nose creates nitric oxide, and the sinuses crate a reservoir of this NO.
The reservoir can be released by humming, or perhaps the well known OMMM sound associated with meditation, and breathing through the nose facilitates the release of NO. The NO stimulates the vargus nerve, engaging the Parasympathetic nervous system and calms you.
So Meditation does work, science says so.
Mr. Divine recommends using ‘tactical breathing’ between sets.
The Benefits of learning to breathing fully:
- Performance enhancement
- Clearer thinking
- We make better decisions in stress situations
- We become calmer
So Meditation style breathing can help us stay calm, in control and focused during our daily WoD.
That is truly a breath of fresh air.
“Mindfulness is paying attention in a very particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally” – John Kabat Zinn
Being “In the present Moment” during your WoD has these benefits:
- Allows you to focus on your breathing –What we talked about in point 1 above.
- Enables you to focus on your FORM and move properly
- Assists you in disposing of negative self talk
- Helps you focus on the task at hand and disregard distractions.
If you are present in the moment, your mind is not filled with how much you lifted, or not, last week. You free your mind from thoughts about what you need to do at work tomorrow, or how you gained a pound last month.
You are mindful of only what is right in front of you at that moment.
This precise moment.
Practice dispelling thoughts about even the next move in the Wod or what your other gym-mates are doing. Even try to dispel thoughts of the very next rep.
Stay in this moment.
Meditation is a practice that cultivates mindfulness. Those who practice it consistently learn to control their mind. Learning to control the mind is how you learn to control the body.
Mindfulness- not Judgment
You may be tempted to beat yourself up because you keep having all these unhelpful, negative or distracting thoughts pop into your head.
Well, DON’T. Just simply notice the thought and feeling that accompanies it, and let it go.
If it helps you, say “I release this thought” or some similar phrase, to give your mind permission to drop the thought, say it.
The practice of meditation is a mind exercise, an exercise in control. Practicing control of our body leads to better control physiologically and psychologically.
The only way to control the body is via the mind.
3. Mindset control – Mental Toughness
Mindset control is closely related to mindfulness. Controlling the mind means controlling the thoughts.
There will be moments during your CrossFit journey where you will:
- Want to quit
- Experience more pain than you expected
- Be uncomfortable, physically or emotionally
- Have negative thoughts about yourself
- Have negative thoughts about your coaches
IF you do not have mental toughness, if you do not practice mindset control-you are sunk. You will not meet your goal, you will quit, and that will be it.
Mental toughness, which can be cultivated via the practice of meditation, is a requirement for any difficult achievement, including meeting your goals with CrossFit.
CrossFit athletes are tough!
They are resilient physically and disciplined mentally. CrossFit is a holistic approach to fitness, and that approach includes the mind.
These are the three reasons the CrossFit athlete should practice Meditation.
We want to know your thoughts on the subject.
Do you practice meditation, and if so how has it helped you in your CrossFit journey?
Are you looking for CrossFit workouts to do at home? We have those too! We would love to have you join us.
Katie is a busy wife and mother of four. She guards her gym time jealously, and would rather miss a PTA meeting or get takeout for dinner than miss a workout.