It’s not the will to win that matters, everyone has that.
It’s the will to prepare to win that matters - Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant.
The world of professional sport is a highly competitive and extremely demanding environment requiring a lot of discipline and dedication. As Paul Bear Bryant rightly said, what matters the most is the will and preparation that goes into playing a match. Athletes are under pressure to perform at the highlest level and this increases the risk of physical and mental burnout - this is where the ancient Indian practices of prāṇāyāma and meditation could be very helpful. These practices have been shown to have numerous benefits for professional athletes, both on and off the field. I’ve seen this myself while working with the Indian hockey team at the Sports Authority of India(SAI) campus in Bengaluru in association with Simply Sport Foundation.
Prāṇāyāma is a practice where we focus on the breath and bring complete awareness to the often ignored practice of breathing that is the very source of life. During our training sessions, we encourage athletes to focus on their breathing that helps them relax, improves focus and concentration and their overall well-being. We include important prāṇāyāma practices as part of their daily practice routine. One of the main benefits of the pranayama practice is that it helps athletes manage stress and anxiety. The practice of conscious breathing helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system that greatly helps to reduce the stress hormones in the body. A few minutes of pranayama everyday can greatly help athletes perform at their very best, even when they’re under pressure.
Meditation or dharana is another powerful tool for professional athletes, to help them quieten the monkey mind or markata and focus on the present moment. A consistent and disciplined meditation practice can help athletes improve their clarity, response and focus. Meditation has been shown to improve cognitive function and reaction time,especially when athletes have to make quick decisions in high pressure situations. It has been shown that meditation also helps enhance sleep quality.
In order for top level athletes to differentiate themselves, these small habits of practicing meditation and prāṇāyāma everyday can bring about big changes. Elite athletes are always looking at ways to gain an edge over their competitors and we’ve seen how many top level athletes of today credit their success to a daily meditation, yoga and pranayama practice.
About the author
Carolyn Theresa Simon is a certified yoga instructor, food writer, and fitness model with a background in finance and accounting. She has studied different styles of yoga and has worked with individuals, athletes, and corporate clients. She currently works with the Indian Hockey team and has trained and mentored over 300 yoga trainers around the world. Her teaching style incorporates traditional yoga practices like Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Iyengar, along with meditation and philosophy. Her classes are known for their clear instructions, skillful sequencing, and a balance of sweat and laughter.
About Simply Sport
Simply Sport is a sports policy research & development organization based out of India. Simply Sport’s vision is to promote sports as an effective tool for the development of the nation. It focuses on policy research, grassroots development and the use of technology in sports. To subscribe to Simply Sports Newsletters, Research & Articles, please write to email@example.com. You can follow Simply Sport on the Twitter handle @_SimplySport for more sports-related content.