In our book “Perfect Breathing” we spent a lot of time writing about the many ways that top athletes and performers use breathing techniques to elicit the absolute best from their minds and bodies. This week, when it’s all about the Olympics all the time, we’ve come across a couple of great examples from the frozen (or slushy) slopes of Whistler.
First up, Alexandre Bilodeau, the moguls champ and winner of Canada’s first gold medal, was part of a Top Secret performance improvement program that taught him and other Canadian athletes how to use breathing techniques to focus their minds and identify and eliminate the anxiety and tension that were holding them back.
Bilodeau learned to identify his unique tension profile through a process called bioneuralfeedback and then learned breathing techiques that specifically addressed his tension points. “Breathing through my shoulders, breathing through my legs and breathing through my mind, it helps you to let it go and bring your focus into the present moment,” he said. “The hardest thing for an athlete in any sport is to stay in the right now.” Read the whole story here.
In another post from Canada’s Times & Transcript, Jim Foster zeros in on the breathing techniques that Olympic biathletes and other marksmen us to put a hole in a bulls-eye from 150 meters at various times during a 20 kilometer cross-country ski race. Not only does the breath play a role in quickly calming the mind and body so that you can make any kind of shot, but the breath has to be used to actually control the shot – if your lungs are full that increases your excitement level and the shakiness or your hands (we’re guessing that’s bad), while holding your breath causes fatigue and negatively affects your vision. There are several techniques, but taking the shot during the pause between the exhale and the next inhale seems to be very effective. Read the whole story here.
In every contest we’ve watched, it is obvious how having control over your mind, body, and emotions can be the deciding factor (except for perhaps curling, but then again…) and the breath is the most powerful source of control we have over them all!
Don Campbell and Al Lee are the authors of Perfect Breathing: Transform Your Life One Breath At A Time (Sterling Publishing/2009) and write, speak, train, and blog tirelessly on the subject. Discover more ways you can improve your health, performance, and wellbeing at www.perfectbreathing.com. Reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call1-888-317-6718 (toll-free).