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!)

Advertisements

Flow w/Fred – 9.4.14 (YFD – Calming the Anxiety)

With a new month comes a new sequence!  As we used a substantial warm-up, Sun Salutation A, a modified Sun B and some strong Mountain 2 flows, we for partner bow.  The whole class tonight centered around opening through the thoracic vertebrae to allow the lungs to expand.  I wanted everyone to breath deeper and fuller than they had in a long time.  I wanted us to find neutral.

We introduced Alternate-Nostril breathing for the first time tonight and the class rocked it :).  Here is a link to more information and a YouTube video for your viewing pleasure.

http://www.artofliving.org/us-en/yoga/breathing-techniques/alternate-nostril-breathing-nadi-shodhan

Calming the Anxiety
“Breathing,” says Yoga physiologist David Coulter, Ph.D, “is one of the most remarkable functions of anatomy and physiology.  It is the only biological activity which can be brought under full conscious control and yet functions semiautomatically twenty-four hours a day.”  If you do nothing else but commit to learning pranayama breathing, you will bring not only your breath under conscious control, but also your emotions.  This doesn’t mean you will repress your feelings, but rather you will begin to witness and more able manage them.

“I’m a writer, and I literally lose words that I know.  It’s as if I’m standing on one side of a synapse, peering to the other side.  There’s a word there – the very word I want for a poem I’m writing – but I can’t reach it.  It remains there, dancing, just beyond my ability to grasp it.  It’s a very frustrating experience, and it invariably signals the onset of depression.  I’ll write a perfectly decent poem and feel like it’s nothing, worse than nothing, I’m worse than nothing.”

Learn to be very watchful, and to refuse to give in to the self-judgments.  Learn how to take care of yourself by increasing your prana by getting outdoors, taking long walks, and riding your bike.  Find your breath.  Find your space.

“I’ve found that rhythmic deep breathing, and especially Alternate-Nostril breathing (Nadi Sodhana), can be very nurturing, and even allow me to be ‘outside’ of the depression for a time.”  My breath can neutralize the energy.

BOOK – “Yoga for Depression” by Amy Weintrab

 

Flow w/Fred – 8.14.14 (YFD – Naturally High)

I’m rushing out of the house this morning to get to my YogaFit – Yoga for Kids training in Raleigh :).  Enjoy and we’d love to have you in a class soon!  Come as you are … not as you think you need to be :).

Naturally High

When we clear away the obstacles to the free flow of thought and feeling through regular Yoga and pranayama breathing practice, we can revitalize our prana.

When we restrict the breath, we are diminishing the spirit.  When we relearn to breathe fully and deeply, we are enlarging the spirit and reconnecting with the Self.  When we are breathing consciously, we remember who we are.

Pranayama means the “control of life breath.”  The ancient Yogis understood that when you can consciously regulate the breath, you can manage your feelings and moods by accelerating your energy or by putting on the brakes.  Harnessing prana through pranayama breathing exercises gives you tremendous power at your abdominals.  It’s like revving up your engine, moving from six horsepower to sixty!

The author states – “As I worked with my breath – experimenting with pranayama – and my thoughts – using affirmations and cognitive therapy exercises to counteract my negative thinking – I was able to accept the scared little girl inside, the suddenly sluggish middle-aged woman, and my body that would not always be trim and fit and healthy, my body that is continuing to change as I grow older.”

BOOK – “Yoga for Depression” by Amy Weintrab

Performance Yoga – 7.21.14 (Lingering in the Pause)

Breath retention is an interesting concept in yoga.  The first time I really played around with it was during a power yoga class a couple years ago.  During that time, I had no idea what I was doing.  I was still in my “do I really need this savasana stuff?”  So needless to say, I didn’t fully understand what was going on.  I found this …

There are three stages of yoga breathing process…

  • Inhalation which is called (puraka), fills the lungs with air and stimulates the whole body.

  • Retention, is called (kumbhaka) during retention the bodies temperature is raised and the oxygen is absorbed.

  • Exhalation, is called (rechaka) here the diaphragm is returned to its original position and toxic air is released into the atmosphere.

    http://www.yoga-for-beginners-a-practical-guide.com/yoga-breathing.html

The pause between the inhale and the exhale is significant.  It is helping to give the alveoli of the lungs an extra moment or two for absorption of oxygen.  I’m cool with that.  Anything that can help my muscles function and recover quicker.  Check out the meditation below.  Thanks for reading!

Lingering in the Pause

  With your inhalation and exhalation even, you are practicing a simple ratio – say, 8 to 8, if you’re breathing in to a count of eight and out to a count of eight.  Let’s add a slight pause at the top and bottom of inhalation.  It’s not a forced holding of the breath; consider it instead a rest in the liminal space, the transition between the two energies of inhalation and exhalation.  Think of the moment after a wave has lapped on the shore and before it begins to recede.  Breathe in for your count of eight, and pause again for one beat.  This gives you the ratio of 8 to 1 to 8 to 1.

  Notice the energy of the pause.  Is it linear?  Is it evident at all?  Can you relax as you pause?  With time and practice, you can lengthen the pauses, but don’t overdo the breath retention.

BOOK – “The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga” by Sage Rountree.

Performance Yoga – 7.7.14 (Breath Awareness)

As we continue into our second month of our “Performance Yoga” class, we are moving deeper into our understanding and connection to our breath.  There are a lot of questions that rise from taking a deeper look at your body’s most basic sequence of events to survive.  Feel free to post a response below :).

Breath Awareness.

Breath awareness is paying close and interested attention to the breath.  Do not work to change it; merely observe it in its natural habitat.
Notice the details.  INHALATION.  How does it feel to breathe through the nose?  Are both nostrils equally clear?  What is the temperature of the air as it enters your nose?  Can you feel its passage down into your lungs?  What motions in your body work to initiate the breath?  What parts of your body move to receive the breath?  In what direction?  How does it feel to be completely full of air?
Notice the details.  EXHALATION.  As you exhale, where does the action begin?  What parts of your body move on exhalation, and in which direction is their movement?  What temperature is the air as it leaves through your nose?  As you approach the bottom of your exhalation, is there room to breathe out even more air?  How does it feel to be totally empty?
Now notice the transition from exhalation to inhalation.  Is there a discernible shift of direction there?  What is its energy?  At the other end of the breath, as inhalation turns to exhalation, how does that feel?  What is its energy?
How long does each breath take?  How long is the inhalation, and how long is the exhalation?  Are there noticeable pauses at the top of each breath after inhalation, and at the bottom of each breath after exhalation?

BOOK – “The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga” by Sage Rountree.