Keeping the bar high at sports

Often, very well-played classical sports performances inspire us greatly. They plant dreams that one day we could be the one on that field, inspiring the audience with breathtaking moves. But, is “how” always a question you keep asking yourself? Obviously, having expertise and skill, hard work and smart work at the practice sessions are important. But what is it that can give you the finer edge? What can help you move your bar higher at sports?

It is the delicate art of doing nothing that needs to be mastered to make you a master sportsman. Meditation is your secret.

Let’s see how.

Maintains high prana

How would it be, entering the field, court, or ring with a smile, feeling confident, with your focus only on the game and no nervousness about the result? It happens when the prana (life force energy) is high in our body. Focus, clarity, quick thinking, intuition, balanced emotions are all benefits of high prana. And meditation is the key to tapping this source of energy that is present within each and every one of us.

A Tip for You: Make sure fresh fruits and vegetables are a part of your diet. They help to maintain the prana levels as well.

Recover quickly from fatigue

Isn’t it important to relax after every performance to recuperate from the loss of energy and recover from fatigue? How about using a natural energy booster?

Did you know that controlled breathing and meditation are two of the most powerful tools to regain energy in just a few minutes? You are sure to feel the surge in energy with every meditation session.

A Tip for You: In the breaks you get during matches, it might not always be possible to sit and meditate so you can take long and deep breaths voluntarily. With your awareness on the movement of air in the nostrils and throat, inhale slowly, hold for a while, and exhale slowly and steadily. Repeat the process 15 to 20 times.

Balance the Emotional Quotient

We all know that it’s good to keep our calm in spite of losing a shot or missing a goal, don’t we? Not getting swayed by emotions is the key to being a successful sportsperson. Did you know your breath is directly connected with emotions? Breathing techniques and meditation help us become emotionally stronger and give us a say over our emotions.

A Tip for You: It might help if you meditate for a few minutes before a match. It will prepare you for a more focused game. You can also perform Bhastrika before settling into meditation.

Perform in the moment

“I do not want to lose again”, “Last time was all my mistake”, “I so wish I can beat him this time”. Sounds familiar? Have you seen how such thoughts keep you away from being in the moment and performing at your best? Our mind has a tendency of swinging between the past and the future. It keeps us from the current flow of events. Have you ever thought about this? And this continuous thought pattern drains us of our energy.

Clarity of thought and a calm mind help us focus on the present, on the task at hand. And these can be attained through meditation. A good performance is as much mental as it is physical.

A Tip for You: During the match, it might be helpful to be calm. Since you might not be able to meditate during the match but you can feel calm and meditative by stealing a few seconds every now and there to be with your breath. Voluntarily inhale and exhale in a relaxed and subtle manner.

Have a greater ability to learn and adaptability

Do you struggle to pick up new shots and strokes with perfection? Does adapting to new climatic conditions fast when on tour help you deliver to the best of your ability?

Deep breathing and meditation can prove to be instrumental in helping us adapt faster. They improve mental awareness by releasing clogged emotions, and make our body more flexible, in turn helping us learn new techniques and adapt to new situations faster.

A Tip for You: Sit down with your eyes closed. Become aware of the sounds and the environment. Then become aware of your body weight, followed by attention on your breath, thoughts, and emotions and gradually may get into a guided meditation as well.

Keep nervousness at bay

Do you have butterflies in your stomach every time you step onto the field? How about coping with match pressure with a relaxed mind? The mind works with effortlessness and the body works with effort, and meditation is here to help us coordinate between the mind and the body.

Regular practice of meditation helps us keep the poise and calmness needed in crunch situations.

A Tip for You: Along with meditation, a process called the Hummm process helps release the tension accumulated in the body, making you relaxed in just a few seconds. How to do it? With every Hummm, throw the palms in the air as if removing excess water from the palms. You may refer to the video for reference.

Effortlessly improves endurance

With eyelids tightly closed and teeth clutched together, we wait for the stretch to be released. Bearing the stretches is such a challenge. Wouldn’t it be good if we are able to smile through the stretching sessions and develop endurance as well? Here is the mantra.

Stretching only as much as possible and breathing gently while holding and directing attention to the stretch in the muscle, is the key. Attention directs prana to the stretched area, helping us cope up with the stretch for longer. It is also a great way of overcoming shooting pains in any muscle.

A Tip for You: While performing stretching exercises, stretch only as much as possible and hold the position for a longer time. “Attend to the stretch” in the targeted muscle along with slow inhalations and exhalations, as if breathing through the muscle.

Improves precision in action

Missing a shot can, at times, turn the course of the match!! A star performer is known for the control he has over his shots, precision in action, and hand-eye coordination. How about developing these abilities the yogic and meditative way? Synchronizing the breath with slow body movements improves the coordination in the body and brings precision in action.

A Tip for You: Perform slow body movements synchronized with slow inhalations and exhalations for about 20 minutes daily!

Inspired by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's wisdom talks

Written by Nikhil Gupta

Based on inputs by Chinky Sen, Sahaj Samadhi Meditation Teacher