Fitness · Health

Perform Better Physically and Mentally with One Simple Trick

Athletes use this trick all the time. Serena Williams does it before she gets ready to serve in tennis; LeBron James before he shoots a free-throw. Olympic gymnasts do it before they execute a difficult move on the balance beam; major league pitchers do it before they throw a strike.

What they all do is take in a breath and then let it out, like a sigh.

With this one action, they release any unnecessary tension in their body. This allows them to relax in the moment so they can feel ready and focused. As a fitness instructor and coach, I try to help my clients be more aware of their breath and teach them how to exhale and let go. I call this conscious exhale a “release breath” and it is useful in getting people to perform physical efforts more efficiently. In my own workouts, I take a “release breath” before the start of every exercise. This allows me to settle into the right position better, making it easier to find my ideal alignment. I am less likely to strain and possibly hurt myself.

We all take sighs from time to time throughout our day, we just don’t notice it. When we are frustrated about something or someone, we breathe shallow or gasp in air as we tense up. Then, when we turn away from the situation, we let out a sigh and let go so we can move on with the day. The physical release from a sigh breath benefits brain and nervous system as well. According to Shems Heartwell, a certified relationship coach and breathwork specialist, “For a person who experiences a great deal of stress and tension, focusing on breathing and relaxing is the most effective way to recalibrate their nervous system.” Just as athletes, students will often pause and let out a sigh before having to take a test or give a speech. Relaxing with this simple action can help them remember more clearly, do better on an exam, or speak more succinctly. Sometimes, it helps to breathe and slow down, which is another way to get yourself to focus better, worry less, and control what you’re doing.

Below are a few more examples in everyday living and exercise when you could try a “release breath”:

  1. In the morning when you are trying to decide what to wear.
  2. Before you have to speak to your boss or an important client.
  3. When you are trying to balance on one leg during yoga or a workout.
  4. Before you have to lift something heavy.
  5. When you are waiting to see your doctor or dentist.
  6. Before you answer an important question.
  7. After someone has told you an emotional story.
  8. When you see a sunset.

Obviously, the list can go on and on. The great thing is that a “release breath” is a wonderful way to let go and appreciate the moment, reduce stress, and perform better. AND it’s easy to practice. You can do it right now.

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  • Paula Skalski February 3, 2018 at 8:03 am

    I enjoyed reading the articles on fitness and other topics discussed here.