Mind-Body Connection: Breathing for Performance
Updated: 5 days ago
by Neil Rasmussen, BS, FRCms, LMT
When it comes hiking or running at high elevations, breath and mindset will be two of your greatest tools. This includes training these skills beforehand, as well knowing how to use these in the moments of stress this challenge will certainly demand.
When it comes to breathing it is a lot more simple than it may seem. Check in with your breathing more often, and notice how your breathing correlates with your mind. When we get angst we naturally hold or lessen our breath. By utilizing our breath we can shift our mind quickly- if we find and practice a technique that works for us.
This also works vice-versa in that calming our mind improves subconscious breathing. By tapping into the power of the mind AND the breath we allow ourselves to BE as we wish. In these moments, we use the power of awareness and free will to synergize more effective results.
Here is a video with some exercises to get better at this type of breathing:
How do we apply breath work to the experience of climbing the highest mountains in North America?
Part of our training is to prepare us for moments when we feel out of breath, when we’re above 14k feet and still have to keep climbing, to know that we are okay even when our body-mind may be signalling otherwise. The body can actually go a lot longer without breathing than you'd assume, but we are pre-programmed to not get even close to our physiological limit (thanks, Nature). The cool thing about being human is you can consciously change this tolerable threshold, and improve your potential for performance and well-being.
One technique I like to practice for this is a contrast of deep, stimulating breaths similar to Wim Hoff breathing or Breath of Fire followed by extremely slow or no breathing for 30-120 seconds. This contrast facilitates a physiological and psychological controlled-stress environment. This is one of the best ways to learn how to handle stress better, whatever that stress may be.
If we carry a mindful perspective into more of our day (beyond just when we are stressed or when we are trying to relax) we are also likely to experience life with more ease and balance naturally over time. We can be mindful during high-intensity situations, loving experiences, healing moments, suffering and much more. Learning basic relaxation skills is a great place to start, but as we continue we may learn that here lies a near-infinite depth of self-discovery and connections to be explored.
For Now, start with a simple, mindful, nasal inhalation to your belly and then exhale letting allllllll the air out...pffffffffffff..