Presentation Title

The Psychological and Physical Benefits of Meditative Yoga Amongst Student Athletes

Format of Presentation

Poster to be presented Friday March 31, 2017

Abstract

The student-athlete population represents a unique group at potentially high risk of challenges with mental health issues. Now more than ever, the illnesses of this demographic, and their struggles with the interplay of body and mind, are being recognized within the field of clinical sports psychology. Traditionally, athletes coped with negative feelings, emotions, and sensations through the use of psychological skills training (PST) methods, which focused on controlling or reducing these indicators of stress. Evidence does show some benefits of these practices, but better methods being promoted by psychologists, coaches, and other health professionals for athletes and athletic programs are mindfulness-based interventions and acceptance-based approaches of improving the psychology of athletes. Incorporating yoga as a physical practice of a mindfulness-based approach is a great tool that allows athletes to practice functional body movements, to be in touch with their breath and the present moment, and to challenge the body and mind in a positive way. The central idea of yoga is to learn how to listen and respond to mental and bodily sensations through certain movement progressions, all while having an accepting attitude toward self-thoughts. It is a form of meditation through movement that brings awareness of one’s physical and mental states. Through a secondary data analysis, this research explores the evidence supporting mindfulness practices, specifically meditative yoga, as superior psychological training methods for student athletes to overcome stress and anxieties; this acceptance-based mind-set helps them to obtain greater psychological and physical benefits. The studies presented in this academic paper provide great evidence of the positive therapeutic effects of mindful, meditative yoga practices on the athlete’s emotional regulation patterns; these practices present them with the tools needed to maintain a clear, conscious mind in both sports and life.

Department

Interdisciplinary Studies

Faculty Advisor

Amy Tucker

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The Psychological and Physical Benefits of Meditative Yoga Amongst Student Athletes

The student-athlete population represents a unique group at potentially high risk of challenges with mental health issues. Now more than ever, the illnesses of this demographic, and their struggles with the interplay of body and mind, are being recognized within the field of clinical sports psychology. Traditionally, athletes coped with negative feelings, emotions, and sensations through the use of psychological skills training (PST) methods, which focused on controlling or reducing these indicators of stress. Evidence does show some benefits of these practices, but better methods being promoted by psychologists, coaches, and other health professionals for athletes and athletic programs are mindfulness-based interventions and acceptance-based approaches of improving the psychology of athletes. Incorporating yoga as a physical practice of a mindfulness-based approach is a great tool that allows athletes to practice functional body movements, to be in touch with their breath and the present moment, and to challenge the body and mind in a positive way. The central idea of yoga is to learn how to listen and respond to mental and bodily sensations through certain movement progressions, all while having an accepting attitude toward self-thoughts. It is a form of meditation through movement that brings awareness of one’s physical and mental states. Through a secondary data analysis, this research explores the evidence supporting mindfulness practices, specifically meditative yoga, as superior psychological training methods for student athletes to overcome stress and anxieties; this acceptance-based mind-set helps them to obtain greater psychological and physical benefits. The studies presented in this academic paper provide great evidence of the positive therapeutic effects of mindful, meditative yoga practices on the athlete’s emotional regulation patterns; these practices present them with the tools needed to maintain a clear, conscious mind in both sports and life.