I have found that my meditation sessions feel a tad sweeter when I’ve pushed my body to some level of exertion. I’ll do some kind of workout and when I’m done, I catch my breath, drink water, change out of my workout clothes, and sit in my favorite meditation seat. Once I get there it’s easier to relax and be more present.
This is particularly true for me if that workout involves some heavy lifting. But is this just my imagination? Does lifting weights help put me in a mindset that’s different from yoga or cardio workouts, for example? I thought I’d do a little research to see if there’s any science backing this up and here’s what I discovered.
A Rutgers University study published in the journal Translational Psychology found that a combination of aerobic exercise and meditation reduced symptoms of depression by 40 percent. The research basically states:
- exercise promotes energy through the release of endorphins (natural opiates);
- focused attention meditation promotes relaxation; and
- when done in combination, both exercise and meditation provide a ‘best of both worlds’ scenario.
Great. So we know that there’s a case here for cardio workouts, but what about yoga?
Come to think of it, haven’t yogis been moving their bodies before meditation for centuries? An article from Yogigo Gita Mike writes, “Traditionally, yogis did yoga before meditating to release energy and prepare the body for restful meditation.”
Yes! I’ve felt that before! The body movement releases the energy to then help prepare for a more calming meditation. Obviously, this is not a new topic, it’s as ancient as yoga.
I have to say that I enjoy yoga and aerobic/cardio workouts but what about lifting weights, because it seems like there’s a bigger release of energy that prepares my body for meditation even more. Is there any truth to this?
Okay, here it is. I found it. “...your body produces more endorphins in a faster period of time when you’re weightlifting than when you’re doing cardio.” source So, if you get a little “endorphin rush” (endorphin HIIT?) after your resistance training and you drop into meditation you’ll be soaring in no time. I’m in.
If weight training stimulates the body and the brain to higher levels of relaxation, then once you land on your meditation seat you’ll be able to “drop in” more effectively.
Then again, everyone is different and I’m sure you can find any research to support your hypothesis. You’ll have to find out for yourself what helps you “find your calm” if you haven’t already.
In a nutshell, I thoroughly enjoy some aerobic activity, particularly the mountain biking here in Colorado in the summer, and I do enjoy some yoga occasionally but when I’m in a deep funk I have my “go to” combo to pull me out of it; some good ole weight lifting (FitBod app) followed by a short meditation (Calm app). Once those are wrapped up I’m ready to start the day on solid ground.