Meditation: A Potent Antioxidant (And Much More)

There’s mounting research showing that meditation rewires out brain, helps us manage stress, and can even help treat depression, PTSD, daily anxiety, and more. (study 1, study 2, study 3).

But in this article I want to talk about harnessing the power of meditation and diaphragmatic breathing to enhance health, performance and recovery through it’s cascade of anti-oxidative properties.

In this study, relaxation and diaphragmatic breathing led to increased antioxidant activity in athletes following exhaustive exercise, and also had a cascading effect of decreasing post-workout cortisol, and increasing the production of melatonin (powerful antioxidant and vital sleep hormone).

Another study found decreased levels of blood lactate, and higher levels of the powerful antioxidant glutathione in Sudarshan Kriya practitioners.

This has some powerful implications:

  1. You can immediately and consciously put your body into a state of increased recovery and improve antioxidant status
  2. If your travel or work makes it hard to eat an antioxidant rich diet, you can counteract some of these stressors and negative physiological effects with meditation and diaphragmatic breath work.

Meditation and breath control is one of the most potent ways to consciously stimulate the resting mechanisms of the body (via the parasympathetic nervous system), just like I talk about in this article (if you want better PERFORMANCE (yang), you must have better RECOVERY (yin).

How I apply this:

  1. INTRA-workout breath work: 2-5 deep diaphragmatic breaths between sets, perhaps with 5-10 between exercises, and possibly one 3-5 minute break mid-workout. This practice will be enhanced if you combine it with deliberate visualization of relevant points of performance for the upcoming set, exercise, etc.
  2. Post workout meditation: 20-30 minutes of relaxed, diaphragmatic breathing immediately following post-workout nutrition.[/su_box]

If you’re not sure where to get started, I highly recommend these free resources:

Andrew Weil: Guided Meditation

Three Breathing Exercises

If you have a few bucks to spend, Dr. Andrew Weil’s guided meditation audiobook is extremely interesting and helpful. (link here)

Do you use post-workout meditation sessions to enhance recovery? How about intra-workout breath work? Let me know in the comments.

> References <

  1. Deliberate imagery practice: the development of imagery skills in competitive athletes
  2. [Review of the effects of mindfulness meditation on mental and physical health and its mechanisms of action].

  3. Sudarshan Kriya practitioners exhibit better antioxidant status and lower blood lactate levels
  4. Is meditation associated with altered brain structure? A systematic review and meta-analysis of morphometric neuroimaging in meditation practitioners.
  5. Diaphragmatic Breathing Reduces Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress
  6. Roles of meditation on alleviation of oxidative stress and improvement of antioxidant system.
  7. Sudarshan kriya yoga: Breathing for health.
  8. Sudarshan Kriya yogic breathing in the treatment of stress, anxiety, and depression: part I-neurophysiologic model.
  9. Relaxation response induces temporal transcriptome changes in energy metabolism, insulin secretion and inflammatory pathways.