Breathing is an often overlooked aspect of athletic training, which means missing out on the ultimate tool for performance, recovery, presence and awareness.
Mastery of the breath is true power. A true invisible power, like a secret weapon you have constant access to. A tool to get you into a state of calm, but alert body and mind, in a matter of minutes.
Most often people don´t pay attention to their breath, since it happens automatically. But the breath is a unique system and process in the human body. It not only has involuntary control mechanism, but also voluntary. Learning how to manage your breath has tremendous effects on the mind-body physiology, and is an awesome tool for athletes.
Simple does it
During my years teaching yin yoga and breath work for athletes and police officers, I´ve learned one thing. Simple does it. A lot of people have a way of believing yoga and breath work is difficult and only for the ”real fancy yogis”, and even though there are some tricky breathing techniques with some bizarre names, there are just as many simple ones. And since I´m a firm believer of “simplify” and “less is more”, I use and teach easy techniques.
The 4 – 4 – 4 – 4 breath
Hands up if you want to learn how to stay calm during pressure, breathing your way to inner power? Yeah, me too.
This easy breathing technique can be used wherever, whenever. Our goal here is not to put you into a sleepy state. This breathing exercise is a way to ground yourself.
It´s easy, simple and effective. And here´s how to do it, step by step:
- Expel all of the air from your lungs
- Keep your lungs empty – as you count to 4
- Inhale through your nose for four counts and hold the air in your lungs – count to 4
- Exhale slowly and smoothly as you count to 4
This is one cycle of a four – four – four – four ratio.
Repeat the cycle for at least five minutes to get the full effect.
Ready for action
The goal here is to use a breathing technique with a neutral energetic effect. There are other techniques that can put you into a sleepy relaxed state, which is not what we´re aiming for here. Calm, yes. But the focus here is also to make you grounded and focused, to sharpen your mind and get you ready for action.
It´s uncomplicated. Accessible. And perfect to use whenever you feel the need of sharpening your mind and ground your body. Before training, perfect. Before game, perfect. Outside your sport, in your daily life with stressful moments, perfect.
Breathe. And stay calm under pressure.