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Have you been hearing about the benefits of meditation in health and wellness communities? Mindfulness and meditation are becoming increasingly popular in the West, with many people curious to try out a meditation practice. You may be looking to add meditation to your daily wellness practice. Similar to exercise, meditation is best practiced consistently during the week in order to experience the benefits.
If you want to practice meditation around the same that you exercise, you may be wondering – Should I meditate before or after exercise? The answer is that it is entirely up to you. There is no right or wrong time to meditate. You might feel that your mind is clearer right when you wake up and before you get your workout in. Or, you may find that you feel more relaxed after your yoga class or gym session. You can practice meditation either before or after you exercise.
What is Meditation?
So what exactly is meditation? Is it simply closing your eyes and thinking of nothing? Nope! The practice of meditation is powerful and transformative. During meditation, you move your awareness inward. You have a single point of focus such as your breath or a feeling and through this focus, you are able to gradually transform your mind, find clarity, and feel calmer and less reactive.
You can practice meditation anytime throughout the day. It might feel good to practice right before you go to bed, or at your desk in the middle of your workday. The great thing about meditation is that you don’t need anything to practice! All you need is a few minutes and yourself.
What Are the Benefits of Meditation?
With so many benefits, it is no wonder that so many people are turning to meditation. It is a wonderful practice to cultivate and just like yoga, it holds countless benefits for your mind and body.
Some of the benefits of meditation include:
- Improved attention and focus: Studies have shown that people who meditate are able to focus for longer periods of time. Because you practice a single point of focus in meditation, this comes as no surprise.
- Reduced stress and anxiety: Regular meditators have lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and are more able to stay calm in stressful situations. Because meditation allows you to focus on the present moment, you may feel less anxious and less stressed in situations.
- Increased self-awareness: When you meditate, you observe your thoughts and feelings without attachment. This leads to greater self-awareness and the ability to pause before reacting. With more awareness of yourself and your reactions, you can lower your stress and anxiety levels as well!
- Increase in compassion and kindness: There are meditation practices such as Loving Kindness or Metta meditation where you connect to a feeling of love for yourself and for others. Practicing this in your mind can translate out of your practice and into your daily life.
What are the Different Types of Meditation?
There are meditation practices that can suit every type of person. Whether you are looking to cultivate more love in your life or simply slow down and appreciate the present moment, there is a practice for everyone.
Some practices of meditation include:
- Mindfulness: Learn to focus on the present moment. You will likely focus on your breath as you learn to travel inward and become aware of your thoughts and emotions.
- Loving Kindness: Cultivate a feeling of love and gratitude for yourself, your loved ones, and the entire world. This meditation focuses on connecting to a feeling of love and sharing it with those around you.
- Mantra: This practice is done by repeating a mantra over and over either in your mind or out loud. Often a Sanskrit mantra, your mind will focus on the mantra and the feeling it invokes within you.
How Do I Meditate?
There are numerous styles and types of meditation. You can take a class that follows a specific lineage, you can practice an audio meditation from an app, or you can do a self-guided meditation. If you are starting out, try a few practices of meditation and see what resonates with you the most.
Apps and audio meditations are useful if you would like something easily accessible. If you have a few minutes every day, you can quickly access a meditation from your phone and take the time to meditate and move inward.
You can meditate:
- At home: Use an app, video, or audio recording
- At a studio: You may have a meditation class at your local yoga studio that you can try out. Meditation studios are also gaining popularity in big cities and they often host a variety of different meditation styles and classes.
- At the office: Take a few moments during your workday or lunch break to come back to your breath and your heart. You can sit at your desk, close your eyes, and guide yourself to focus on your breath and the present moment.
What Do I Need to Meditate?
All you need is yourself, your breath, a quiet space, and some time. If you are looking to meditate specifically before or after you exercise, you can set up some time and space depending on your workout that day.
If you work out at home, set up a meditation spot in your house. You can use a chair or a comfy cushion, light a candle or incense, and make your space cozy and comfortable. Use an app for guidance, or check out a guided meditation online. If you would prefer to practice in silence, focus on your inhales and exhales and follow your breath. Start with 1-2 minutes, and gradually build up.
If you work out at a gym or a studio, you can meditate before or after your class or gym session. You can do this at home, or you can find a quiet spot in your gym or studio to turn inward. Usually, yoga classes are quiet and calm before and after class, and you can take a few moments for yourself to meditate. If the gym is a little too distracting, you might sneak in a few minutes in your car before entering or leaving the gym.
When is the Best Time to Meditate?
The best time to meditate is the time that feels the best for you! You may like a consistent time to practice or it may change on a daily basis. The important thing is to keep your practice consistent. A few minutes a few times a week is better than one very long session once a month.
You can try practicing:
- Right when you wake up: A mediation right before you begin your day or before your morning yoga practice can feel awesome. You are can set yourself up for success with a mindful and aware attitude and sense of self. If you tend to feel stressed when you wake up, try a short meditation practice to shift your perspective and calm your mind.
- During your lunch break: You might be able to sneak off to a yoga or meditation class during your lunch break. This can be a great way to re-energize yourself and take a few moments out of your workday that is just for you.
- In the middle of your day: Can’t make it out of the office? No problem, you can meditate at your desk! Throw on some headphones, sit at your desk, and close your eyes. Even a minute or two of mindful and meditative breaths can make all the difference.
- At the end of your day: Meditating at the end of your day can be a beautiful way to wind down. As you move inward, you can practice reflection and gratitude for your day and start to calm your body and nervous system down.
You can add your meditation practice either before or after your exercise routine. Try out which time feels better for you. Practicing before you exercise can help your workout feel more mindful and focused. Practicing after can also feel great, as your mind may be calmer and it can be easier to turn inward. Remember that it is your practice, so do what feels best for you.
How long does it take before I feel the benefits of meditation? This depends on how often your practice and how committed you are. Some people notice changes after one or two weeks while others feel changes after a long time of practice. Stay consistent and enjoy the journey of your meditation practice.
Can I meditate every day? Absolutely! With a physical practice like going to the gym or practicing yoga, it is always a good idea to have a rest day. However, you can practice meditation every day, or even a few times a day!
Is it challenging to meditate? In our fast-paced world, slowing down and moving inward can feel challenging. When you first start out, mediation can feel a little challenging. However, with consistent piratic and dedication, it will become easier and more enjoyable.