PERFORMANCE YOGA – 06.08.15 (Do What You Have Been Coached to Do!)

Who drives our performance … spectators or us?

Modern society does not like to accept us for who we are.  It will constantly distract us from who we are to build a persona that does not fit us.  It would like for us to fit it’s perceived reality and consequently destroy our authentic self in an attempt to appease the masses.  It will yell and scream at us in our moments of failure and display jealousy in our moments of success.  Is there a way to appease the world around us?

No.  An answer of “no” to that question drives a stress response in our bodies.  We want to be loved and admired.  When we cannot meet the requirements of others, we become stressed and our bodies suffer.  It is our deepest fear that we are powerful in who we are, but the world will not accept who we are.  So a different question should then be asked.  Should I do what I have been coached to do?

Throughout life we have mentors and friends that allow us to bring our authentic self out for the world to see.  We all receive coaching to find the depth of ourselves.  Re-frame the thought process and our intention.  Our performance and life are not for others.  They are for us.  Step out, be who we are right now and let our abilities define us.  Embrace our abilities, our role and give weight to that which we can control (Interval pace, stick handling, cross-over, training, etc).  The reactions of others are for them.  Look in the mirror … what have you been coached to do?

BOOK – “The Champion’s Mind:  How Great Athletes think, train and thrive.” by Jim Afremow
Do What You Have Been Coached to Do!

“Your job when you play is not to win or please others – that’s beyond your control.  Instead, your job is to do what you have been coached to do by carrying out your specific assignments with the right attitude to the best of your abilities – that’s within your control.

Know what your job is and do your job.

Knowing your responsibilities and doing your job is how you can magnify the relevant aspects of your performance while shrinking everything that is irrelevant.

Embracing your role on the team is how you can be true to what it is you are doing.

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Performance Yoga – 9.15.14 (Controllability and Forest Meditation)

In yoga, there is a freedom to allow the brain to be what it is.  It is a place that stores EVERYTHING.  The positive, the negative and the flat out creepy.  To have control is to relinquish control.  It is easy to feel overwhelmed by our thoughts.  I know this.  It takes practice to allow the mind to flow and not make judgments on ourselves because of what cascades across the present.  If retained, a number of psychological issues begin to form.  There is no judgment on your mat … simply the acknowledgment of the thought.  Allow the present moment to be a wonderful place where you can release stress.

Controllability – Make the image do what you want it to do. Many athletes have difficulty controlling their images,
often repeating the same mistake over and over, or failing to conjure up the appropriate image. Learn how to
program your own “internal computer” so you are confident and focused on those things you want to occur.
from “Teaching Athletes Visualization and Mental Imagery Skills” by David Yukelson, Ph.D. Penn State University

FOREST MEDITATION
Modified from http://www.innerhealthstudio.com/forest-visualization.html

Imagine yourself walking on a path through a forest. The path is soft beneath your shoes, a mixture of soil, fallen leaves, pine needles, and moss. As you walk, your body relaxes and your mind clears, more and more with each step you take.

Breathe in the fresh mountain air, filling your lungs completely. Now exhale. Breathe out all the air. Feeling refreshed.

Take another deep breath in…revitalizing…. and breathe out completely, letting your body relax further.

Continue to breathe slowly and deeply as you walk through the forest and continue the forest visualization.

The air is cool, but comfortable. Sun filters through the trees, making a moving dappled pattern on the ground before you.

Listen to the sounds of the forest…. Birds singing. A gentle breeze blowing. The leaves on the trees shift and sway in the soft wind.

Your body relaxes more and more as you walk. Count your steps and breathe in unison with your strides. Breathe in 2, 3, 4… hold 2, 3…exhale 2, 3, 4, 5.

Breathe in 2, 3, 4… hold 2, 3…exhale 2, 3, 4, 5.

Breathe in 2, 3, 4… hold 2, 3…exhale 2, 3, 4, 5.

Continue to breathe like this, slowly and deeply, as you become more and more relaxed.

As you walk through the forest visualization, feel your muscles relaxing and lengthening. As your arms swing in rhythm with your walking, they become loose, relaxed, and limp.

Feel your back relaxing as your spine lengthens and the muscles relax. Feel the tension leaving your body as you admire the scenery around you.

Your legs and lower body relax as well, feeling free and relaxed.

You begin to climb up a slight incline. You easily tread along smooth rocks on the path. Feeling at one with nature.

The breeze continues to blow through the treetops, but you are sheltered on the path, and the air around you is calm.

Performance Yoga – 9.8.14 (Vividness and Beach Visualization)

Our “Performance Yoga” class has introduced the idea of visualizations.  In our next series of classes, the five key components to visualizations will be shared culminating in a visual meditation.  Time to get past those negative thoughts on the mistakes that we make and enjoy the present :).

Vividness – a vivid image is one in which the imagined events are realistic, and multi-sensory, and as detailed as possible. The closer the image is to the real thing in terms of thoughts, emotions, senses, and actions, the better the transfer should be to actual performance. The key is to use as many senses as possible (e.g., see the action, feel yourself moving, hear the sounds, smell the smells), and to try and recreate the feel of the movement as if you are actually doing it (“feelization”). For instance, Sport Psychologist Dick Coop suggests golfers incorporate two levels of visualization on every shot; first create a mental movie of the way you want the ball to fly (ball flight to the target) and second, translation of that picture into an image of how the body should move in order to hit the shot (rhythm and feel of hitting a solid shot or putt). Key is to create a vivid, detailed, and confident image.
from “Teaching Athletes Visualization and Mental Imagery Skills” by David Yukelson, Ph.D. Penn State University

BEACH VISUALIZATION
Modified from … http://www.innerhealthstudio.com/visualization-relaxation.html

Imagine you are walking toward the ocean…. walking through a beautiful, tropical forest….
You can hear the waves up ahead…. you can smell the ocean spray…. the air is moist and warm…. feel a pleasant, cool breeze blowing through the trees….
You walk along a path….coming closer to the sea….as you come to the edge of the trees, you see the brilliant aqua color of the ocean ahead….
You walk out of the forest and onto a long stretch of white sand…. the sand is very soft powder…. imagine taking off your shoes, and walking through the hot, white sand toward the water….
The beach is wide and long….
Hear the waves crashing to the shore….
Smell the clean salt water and beach….
You gaze again toward the water…. it is a bright blue-green….
See the waves washing up onto the sand….. and receding back toward the ocean…. washing up…. and flowing back down….. enjoy the ever-repeating rhythm of the waves…
Imagine yourself walking toward the water…. over the fine, hot sand…. you are feeling very hot….
As you approach the water, you can feel the mist from the ocean on your skin. You walk closer to the waves, and feel the sand becoming wet and firm….
A wave washes over the sand toward you…. and touches your toes before receding…
As you step forward, more waves wash over your feet… feel the cool water provide relief from the heat….
Walk further into the clear, clean water…. you can see the white sand under the water…. the water is a pleasant, relaxing temperature…. providing relief from the hot sun… cool but not cold….
You walk further into the water if you wish…. swim if you want to…. enjoy the ocean for a few minutes….. allow the visualization relaxation to deepen…. more and more relaxed… enjoy the ocean….
Now you are feeling calm and refreshed…
You walk back out of the water and onto the beach…
Stroll along the beach at the water’s edge…. free of worries… no stress… calm….. enjoying this holiday….
Up ahead is a comfortable lounge chair and towel, just for you…
You feel peaceful and relaxed…. allow all your stresses to melt away….

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.