PERFORMANCE YOGA – 02.23.15 (Body Language – Part 1)

A key topic in the business world is a term called “power pose.”  It’s all about body language.  It’s all about the persona you project.

The TED Talk above does a great job of explaining the detail to which body language has been studied.  And it has been researched to quite a deep level.  The speaker explains how these postures can truly change our body chemistry.  It is incredible to see (literally) how our physical posture can either aid or damage our body.

1.  Increase in Testosterone – http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/benefits-testosterone (Benefits of Testosterone)
2.  Decrease in Cortisol – http://www.adrenalfatigue.org/cortisol-adrenal-function (Dangers of Sustained High Levels of Cortisol)
3.  Study Proving Data – http://www.people.hbs.edu/acuddy/in%20press,%20carney,%20cuddy,%20&%20yap,%20psych%20science.pdf

Tonight in class we took the time to hold postures a little longer than we typically do.  We were very powerful.  Airplane, Warrior 2, Side Angle and Reverse Warrior asked us to be strong, open and powerful.  Why did we do this?  Because we knew the benefits, internally and externally, that our bodies would absolutely thrive on.

Western culture asks us to hunch over our computers, curl in to look at our phones, and slouch down in our couches.  I’m guilty of all of these (even as I sit here typing this).  Am I saying that we should refrain from all?  No.  “Everything in moderation, including moderation” is the popular phrase from Oscar Wilde.  So let’s hunch over our computers in moderation, curl in to look at our phones in moderation, and slouch down in our couches in moderation.  With amazing benefits of increased testosterone and decreased cortisol, how will we let the world see us?  

Pregame is always an interesting time in a sporting event.  Players and coaches usually do the “eye test.”  They watch one another closely for information.  Incredible to think that posturing prior to games isn’t “show-boating” … there’s science here that proves that it has profound positive effects.  So it’s fourth and goal … game is tied and you have one free throw left … penalty shot is called and the goalie looks on … what will we show the world?  Show power!  Nothing can beat us … no matter what!

Body Language – Make a Golden Impression (Part 1)

Body language is a two-way process:  Your own body language reveals your thoughts and feelings to others; and other people’s body language reveals their thoughts and feelings to you.

On game day, what is your body language saying?  What image do you want to project?

Positive/Upbeat Body Language – Smiling, Chin up, Shoulders back/Chest out, Standing tall, Walking strong.

Negative/Glum Body Language – Frowning, Shaking your head, Eyes downcast, Shoulders hunched, Dragging your feet.

When you are gassed at practice, stand tall and walk strong.

Your body language will send the right message to the opposition:  You can’t be mentally beaten or fazed – no matter what happens.

BOOK – “The Champion’s Mind:  How Great Athletes think, train and thrive.” by Jim Afremow  (BUY IT!)

Advertisements

PERFORMANCE YOGA – 02.09.15 (ANXIETY MANAGEMENT – Part 2)

I’m an analytical person.  I know for some folks this is hard to believe.  I like checklists, to-do lists, procedures, the volume to be at an even number, my clothes organized by the color spectrum and to have my cleaning supplies organized by brand name.  Yep.

There are discussions among Yoga instructors that want classes to be organic and create themselves from the moment.  There are other schools of thought that look to research and preparation along with reviewing notes while teaching.  Athletes do the same.  Some will state how practice is a waste of time and that you grow in the heat of competition.  There are others that work religiously to perfect their skills in practice to bring them to fruition in game time.  I believe there is a place for both … and I have taught and competed from both.  For me, I type all of my class flows so that I can carve them up with feedback from participants and self-reflective words.  I like being prepared.

The reason I do this is because I deal with anxiety after I do things.  Most people enter into an event being anxious and nervous.  I end a lot of classes and tennis matches, hockey games, and races with “what if”s and “should have”s.  Anxiety management is important to me so that I do not end such a great experience (win or lose) with negative self-talk.  My love of checklists loves the content below.  Eight different strategies to help deal with anxiety.  Read, use and have fun!

Anxiety Management:  Go from Panicky to Pumped! (Part 2)

1.  Be well prepared.  Nothing helps build confidence more than knowing that you are ready for the challenge at hand.

2.  Nerves are natural.  No matter how calm your opponents may appear, they are likely experiencing the same level of anxiety – or more so – than you are.

3.  Ally with the anxiety.  Tell yourself, “My body is preparing itself to perform,” and “I’ve done well before, and I can do it again now.”

4.  Breathe evenly and deeply.  Good breathing reduces anxiety by clearing your mind of fog and by reducing physical tension.

5.  Get creative and use your imagination.  Understand that you are bigger and more powerful than this anxious feeling.

6.  Stay in the here and now.  Monitor negative “futurizing” and worrisome thoughts about winning or losing.

7.  Stay on a positive thought channel.  Flip the switch from negative to positive self-talk when you are emotionally spiraling down.

8.  Take yourself lightly.  Always remember that sport is what you do and not who you are.  Smile.  Laugh.  Have a good time.  Ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that can really happen?”  If the worst does happen, ask, “What can I do to cope?”

Remember that FEAR means to “Face Everything and Respond.”  To perform at a champion’s level, let the butterflies fly in formation!

BOOK – “The Champion’s Mind:  How Great Athletes think, train and thrive.” by Jim Afremow  (BUY IT!)

PERFORMANCE YOGA – 01.19.15 (Breath Control – Breathe Life into Your Performance)

As an athlete, there are numerous variables being thrown into situations.  It is incredibly hard to stay focused on the present moment because of these variables.  So many athletes are prized for their ability to see a play before it happens.  I’ll ask though … how many plays have been not executed properly due to this?  I almost missed a wide open net in my hockey game this past Sunday evening because I was so focused on a celebration that hadn’t even begun.

An elite athlete does a phenomenal job of balancing the past failures and successes with the future failures and successes by being stable in the Now.  A great way to bring ourselves back to this is through the breath.  In life, and in sports, we can become overwhelmed by our failures.  They can drive us to stop moving forward.  They can cause self-doubt and may even keep us from trying.  Come back to the breath.  Full and deep in … and full and relaxed out.  It is simple and brings us back from the depths of our own mind.

Breath Control – Breathe Life into Your Performance

To perform at a champion’s level, breathe deeply and rhythmically to maintain peak energy levels.  Proper breathing works in tandem with being a Now-ist (i.e., living fully in the moment).  Expand the belly during inhalation and relax the belly during exhalation.  Let your shoulders drop and jaw relax as you exhale.  Give it a try right now.  Draw in a deep breath and let it out slowly.

Proper breathing helps expel the stress and tension from your system and brings you back into the present.

1.  Breathe in through the nose for a count of one, two, three, four and five.
2.  Hold for one and two.
3.  Breathe out through the mouth for a count of one, two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight.

Extraneous thoughts fog up your focus.  Your mind becomes more powerful as it becomes quieter and clearer.  So breathe deeply and mindfully throughout your day.  Also, when you are not thinking about the future, it’s difficult to fear it.  Fear is the enemy of effective action!

BOOK – “The Champion’s Mind:  How Great Athletes think, train and thrive.” by Jim Afremow  (BUY IT!)