These 2 Breathing Exercises Can Lead You Into a High-Performance State of Mind
By Susana Vie, Yoga & Pilates Instructor
I began practicing yoga because I needed to get my introverted self out of its comfort zone. The fear of exposing myself, claiming my rights or disagreeing with an opinion, made me accept some situations even without agreeing. Who doesn’t do this at some point in their lives?
Yet through yoga, I was able to heal these parts of me and achieve a high performance state of mind.
We are all after improving performance in some way, whether in sporting events, business, academic, or in our relationships. But high performance is usually only related to top level sport. However, this concept should be applied not only to professional sports, but also in our personal life, studies or to develop creativity and focus.
One of the most important things you learn in Yoga is how to breathe and this has a profound impact on the way we think and feel.
How you think determines what you do. When you are full of energetic thoughts, you naturally show energy in life. If you feed your mind with doubts and insecurity, you won’t go forward.
For each emotional state there is a particular breathing pattern that starts with this premise: any variation in our mood can change our breathing.
Put simply: we can use our breath to alter our emotional state and see the world with different glasses.
Makes sense right?
For example, when we're stressed, our breath becomes short, superficial, agitated. And our thoughts become unclear, scattered. It becomes difficult to concentrate in these conditions. What seems to matter more and more is how we react to the vicissitudes of life.
Those who deal better with their own feelings are more likely to be successful.
And there’s a way to put order in the middle of this chaos. You don’t have to be a Yoga master or even sit cross-legged to get the benefits of breathing training. And I believe that by starting with just the two exercises I share in this post, you'll be on your way to a high performance state of mind.
Are you ready?
Sit up straight and take a deep breath, see if you are using your rib cage entirely.
If not, begin by taking a full breathe: expanding the diaphragm and carrying air to the abdomen, intercostal area, and upper part of the torso.
The exhalation should last approximately twice as long as the inhalation. The pause in breathing arises naturally at the end of the exhalation phase and lasts until the impulse to inhale occurs of its own accord.
The inhalation forms the active part of the breath, brings you oxygen, a clear mind, and produces a pleasant sensation of euphoria. The exhalation is the passive part of the breath, the phase of emotional relaxation.
Improper breathing can slow down the performance of the brain and muscles due to a lack of oxygen in the cells.
Now for another exercise that is a bit different. The next time you feel tired, instead of reaching for a cup of coffee, try this energetic breathing practice instead, for an extra jump in energy.
This exercise involves taking short and quick breaths, which helps you to hyper-oxygenate the brain and produces mental clarity.
Inhale and exhale short and fast, strong and forcefully through the nostrils and abdomen, creating a loud noise, like reproducing the sound of a bellows.
This is a more agitated breathing that boosts your thoughts and produces rapid thinking, in times of mental fatigue. This way of breathing immediately changes the way we feel.
Remember, better breathing equals more oxygen to the brain, which means more endurance, and has the ability to move us from a medium state of mind into a brilliant one.
I hope these two exercises help you learn to use the breath as a way of maximizing your performance and vitality in life.
What do you think?
Let us know how these techniques work for you!
Susana is a Yoga and Pilates instructor, based in Lisbon. She is currently teaching group lessons in several Health Clubs and
as a personal Yoga trainer. Susana provides training counselling and
private guidance for those who'd like personal assistance in several
areas: well-being, high-performance in sports and business. You can find Susana on her personal blog: www.susanavie.com.