Yoga, Meditation For Baseball Players: What You Need To Know

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Over the past few years, sports tech researchers have been investigating the benefits of yoga and meditation for baseball players.

Yoga and meditation are taking over the sports world right now. Yesterday, football player Erling Haaland celebrated a goal by meditating, and last year Tom Brady was seen doing yoga on the sideline.

Indeed, there are big benefits of yoga and meditation for athletes. I previously wrote about meditation for football players. Today, let’s discuss yoga, meditation, and baseball.

The latest research shows that yoga improves muscle coordination for performance enhancements, while also decreasing the risk of injury and improving recovery rates. Meanwhile, meditation helps baseball players to relax their minds to deal with the stress. Plus, it improves reaction times and focus. Because of these benefits, MLB teams are starting to teach players both yoga and meditation.

Speaking to SportsTechie, MLB stats coordinator Steph Armijo said, “When I first started knocking on doors and said I want to teach yoga [in MLB], that didn’t mean anything to them…You see players doing the typical yoga stretches, but nobody wanted to call it yoga and nobody wanted to ‘do yoga’.”

Soon enough, however, Armijo was giving yoga lessons to the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. The sports world was beginning to take yoga and meditation more seriously. 

Both meditation and yoga help baseball players to perform. Let me show you why.

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Meditation for Baseball Players

There are big benefits of meditation for baseball players too. Meditation can help with everything from your skills on the baseball field to your ability to relax after a game.

The benefits of meditation for baseball players include:

  • Helps baseball players perform at their optimum.
  • Improves your reaction times (so you can hit the ball),
  • Increases awareness (so you’re more aware of where other players are and where the ball is heading)
  • Helps to reduce the effect of stress and pressure that you may feel before or during the match.
  • Reduces recovery time
  • Improves muscle coordination

Types of Meditation for Baseball Players

There are many different types of meditation that baseball players might like to try.

If you have not meditated before, it is best to start with some simple breathing meditations. Simply close your eyes and focus on your breathing for twenty minutes. You can do this before the game or when you’re in the dugout. This will help relax your mind and increase your awareness. Plus, it will reduce the effects of stress and help to make sure you’re in the game mentally.

Another great meditation for baseball players is a Taoist technique called Zhan Zhuang (“Standing Like A Post”). Essentially, you stand in the position you would stand while batting (you can even hold the bat if you like) and meditate in this position. This trains your mind to be focused and calm in the stance you use when you’re batting. In effect, you are preconditioning yourself to be in the right mindset when you do step up to bat.

If you’re a baseball pitcher, you can meditate on the motion of pitching. Very slowly move your arm as you would when pitching. Meditate on the movement of your arm. One pitch should take around a minute.

Methods like these help to ensure that you’re in peak condition for your next baseball game.

Benefits of Yoga for Baseball Players

A recent study highlighted the benefits of yoga for baseball players. Last summer, three experts in sports research [Armijo, Moturs Global, and KinectPro] studied the effects of yoga on baseball players [1].

MLB pitchers were given 60-minute classes in vinyasa yoga (a form of yoga that is focused on flow). Researchers measured recovery rates after a game.  The tests included range of motion, jump force and shoulder strength.

The pitchers who had taken part in the vinyasa classes showed significant improvements in various physical tests. The researchers state, “Yoga speeds the recovery process of several key fatigue markers and may offer more physical benefits than has previously been considered.”

Recovery, however, is not the only benefit of yoga that baseball players can expect.

For starters, yoga increases coordination, which helps to improve the accuracy of pitches. It also improves balance, which is essential for difficult catches. And it improves body awareness. It makes us more aware of how we are moving the body. In turn, this improves muscular coordination, which leads to a reduced risk of injury, although further research is required to substantiate this.

Best yoga poses for baseball players

Stretching in-field:

When it comes to stretching in the field the best options are simple forward folds. These help loosen the legs and hamstrings. To do this, hold your feet at should-width apart and bend over at the tips. Then touch the ground. Now lift your torso and back up.

In the Dugout:

Because you’re spending a good deal of time sitting in the dug-out when the opposition is batting, it’s an opportune time to practice yoga stretches.

One of the best options for this is Sitting Pigeon Pose, which will loosen your hips. Lift your right leg and position your right foot on your left thigh. Now stretch forward at the waist. If you do this correctly you will feel the stretch down your right hip. Hold this for around fifteen seconds and then switch to the other side.

Another option in the dugout is to do a low lunge with the bat. To do this, bend your right knee so your thigh is parallel, and your shin is perpendicular to the ground. Reach your left leg out behind you and use the bat for support by placing your hands on it. This is an excellent pose for stretching the hips, which will help you to run when you get back to batting.

Recovering after the game:

As well as helping during the game, yoga helps after baseball too. This is the time to use yoga for recovery. One of the best ways to do this is with Happy Baby. This is a yoga pose where you lie on the ground with your legs up, then grip your feet with your hands and rock from side to side (imagine a baby on their back). This massages the spine to help with recovery.

Summary

The fact that MLB is now taking yoga and meditation seriously shows just how beneficial they are. You can up your game and improve your health with a few simple meditations and yoga practices.

Do you want to get better at baseball? Are you interested in learning meditation? Book an online meditation lesson with me today.

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By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.

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