All posts by perfectbreathing

Breathing Your Way to Olympic Gold

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 info@perfectbreathing.com or call1-888-317-6718 (toll-free).

New Breathe Break Videos

mind-150x130 (6)We are excited to announce the release of the first three episodes of our new Breathe Break video series. These YouTube videos are designed to give you quick insight and exercises that you can start using immediately. The video series will cover all of the different dimensions of breathwork in short easy to understand installments that you can work through at your own pace, whenever it is convenient. Topics will include the fundmentals, health & healing, sports and creative performance improvement, emotional intelligence, panic and anxiety attacks, as well as spiritual pursuits such as meditation, prayer, and contemplation.

Breathe Break #1 – Developing Breath Awareness, covers the first step in taking advantage of this powerful engine, and that is becoming aware of it! Check it out below:

Control Your Fear of Flying with Breathing

mind-150x130 (5)Just before takeoff, people with a mild fear of flying should take a deep breath, immediately exhale forcefully and then hold their breath for six to 10 seconds.

That is the advice of Professional Association of German Psychiatrists (known by its German initials BVDP), which said the technique relaxes muscles and takes the mind off one’s fears.

BVDP chairwoman Christa Roth-Sackenheim advised affected persons to refrain from alcohol and caffeinated drinks like coffee, black tea and cola so as not to heighten the body’s state of agitation.

Fear of flying can manifest itself in nervousness, an abnormally fast heartbeat, heavy sweating, anxiety and nausea.

People who repeatedly show these symptoms should seek medical help. “People should admit to themselves that they have a fear of flying, especially business people who have to fly a lot,” said Roth-Sackenheim, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist.

She added that fear was a serious symptom of a disorder, not a figment of the imagination that one ought to be ashamed of.

“With the help of education and confrontation therapy, affected persons can break the vicious circle before they try to solve their problems with avoidance behaviour and alcohol,” Roth-Sackenheim said.

About one in three airline passengers is believed to fear flying. According to a survey by the German Fear-of-Flying Centre, most sufferers are frequent fliers. Many have experienced a critical situation during flight, others are suddenly gripped by fear of a crash.

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Don Campbell and Al Lee are the authors of Perfect Breathing: Transform Your Life One Breath At A Time (Sterling Publishng/2008) 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 info@perfectbreathing.com or call 1-888-317-6718.

Relax and quit smoking!

mind-150x130 (4)It’s a bit mystifying, but people still smoke cigarettes. The health risks are well known and documented, but the nasty habit persists.

To be sure it is a personal choice (except for when we have to breathe the nasty second-hand smoke). But we’re certain many who still smoke would love to stop.

WebMD’s “Stop Smoking Support and Tips by Gina Shaw, however, shares a few relaxation techniques that might help those who would like to quit smoking kick the habit for good,” writes TestCountry.com. “The article does mention that there are no hard-hitting scientific facts and observations – not yet, anyway – to back up how effective these techniques are in helping people stop smoking, but the American Cancer Society’s Vice President for Epidemiology and Surveillance Research, Michael Thun, M.D., concurs that these approaches might be of help.”

These techniques are held together by a common factor: all involve deep breathing. The reason why these might help is that smokers are generally used to breathing deeply while sucking on a cigarette, and this might be a practice that they no longer do once they try to quit. Forgetting to practice deep breathing may lead to an increase in tension levels, which leads to that “fuzzy,” “grumpy” and “out of sorts” feeling that smokers who try to quit sometimes get.

The techniques include practicing deep breathing, guided imagery, tai chi, meditation and yoga. If you’re even thinking about quitting, these are worthy of investigation. Read the full article here and be sure to visit www.perfectbreath.com for more info on mindful breathing. You’ll be glad you did.

Breathe Yourself to Sleep

mind-150x130-2Fitness guru and Core Performance blogger Joe Kita continues his One Small Change series with some advice about how to use mindful breathing to help those who have trouble sleeping. He quotes us liberally and uses one of the exercises we outline in “Perfect Breathing.”

“The breath is the common denominator in everything we do,” says Al Lee, co-author of Perfect Breathing, in Joe’s post. “It touches every dimension of life. It directly and dramatically affects your health, your ability to heal, your emotions, your physical performance, your creativity, and it’s used by every spiritual tradition to help achieve deeper states of prayer, meditation and contemplation.”

Learn more at www.perfectbreath.com

Bareback Breathing

guest-150x130 (1)One of the more unexpected discoveries during the research and writing of our book “Perfect Breathing” was the fact that the breath plays a critical role in the training of horses, horse trainers, and riders.

Who knew?

Initially, an article by horse training expert Dr. Ron Meredith caught our attention. He cautions his students to use their breathing to calm and control their emotions when working with a new horse. “You start by paying attention to your breathing so that you develop a rhythm before you even get near the horse.” Throughout the process Meredith reminds his students to constantly check with their breathing to make sure it is rhythmic and relaxed. If the student loses control of their emotions and begin to hold their breath or breathe in an excited fashion they must leave the arena immediately until their breathing is back under control. It is a long process but Meredith states that, “Ultimately your breathing will give you the calmness you want whenever you walk up to a horse.”

We were intrigued and a bit more digging led us to an excellent book by Zen expert and riding trainer Tom Nagel called “Zen and Horseback Riding.” It turns out that horses are extremely sensitive and the way a rider breathes directly affects the interaction between the horse and rider. When the rider’s breath and posture are are in alignment, they provide a very effective communication channel with the horse – even through a saddle. This communication channel lets the horse, in the words of thoroughbred trainer Jamilee Shaffer “know what you want them to do even as you think it.” This seemingly supernatural awareness of our body language and breath makes them “absolutely spectacular to ride” says Jamilee.

The calmness, relaxation, and grounding that result from slow, deep, intentional breathing can profoundly our own experience and performance, but it can also impact those around us – friends, familiy, co-workers, clients – even horses!

If you’d like to read about how we put our new-found horse-whispering skills to use with a real live thoroughbred, check out our latest article “Tall in the Saddle.”

Mindfullness Reminders

mind-150x130 (1)Although there is nothing “hard” about breathing – or at least it shouldn’t be – the most difficult aspect of the practice is remembering to do it. Our breathing is automatic, we don’t have to think about it. It just takes care of itself. There are myriad benefits to your health, performance, emotions, and spiritual experience that come from the conscious use of the breath. The challenge lies in transforming an unconscious act into a conscious one.

In a recent article in Examiner.com, Jordann Rawlings recommends training yourself to take a moment to breathe and be mindful each time a stressor enters your consciousness – your cell phone ringing, a meeting alarm going off, etc. This can be a very effective approach.

There are a number of other proactive strategies that we recommend as well. Put a couple of recurring daily reminders to stop and take a couple of deep breaths in your calendar or cell phone. Put a note on the bathroom mirror or refrigerator door. Hang something from the rear view mirror in your car. You get the idea. Find a way to remind yourself. It doesn’t take long to develop the habit once you set your mind to it.

For those of you who would like some assistance, you can sign up for our Twitter reminder service. It sends a short “remember to breathe” text message to your phone two time a day along with a short affirmation or interesting fact or quote. For those of you not familiar with Twitter, it only takes a moment to sign up and it is free. Just remember to turn on the updates to your phone.

The address of our Twitter reminder service is “@remembr2breathe” (yes that last “e” is missing in “remember”). We also host a PerfectBreathing micro blog with the lastest news and information at “@perfectbreath”.

With just a few minutes of attention each day, you’ll find that the habit of mindful conscious breathing will grow and provide you with a host of benefits that will continue to grow with each passing day.

Joe Kita Uses the Breath for Healthier Travel

guest-150x130Health and fitness author Joe Kita has been blogging on his Core Performance One Small Change site about the use of mindful breathing and how it can be used in everyday life. Joe is using core info from our book, “Perfect Breathing,” in his month-long exploration.

His post today talked about travel and how to stay healthy. Love his lead paragraph: “I’m sitting deep in coach between a fidgety three-year-old with a runny nose and, across the aisle, a middle-age woman with a frightening cold sore who for some reason keeps smiling at me. I’m trying to focus on my newspaper and not worry, but the lead story is about an outbreak of swine flu on a cruise ship.
“I’m doomed, I presume. Just about every time I fly I catch a cold or flu, and this time will probably be no different. Unless….”

Joe immediately begins using a technique we call “Healing Breath.” (See the full exercise here).

His evaluation: “Although it sounds a bit out there and I worry that all the extra inhaling might actually bring in more germs, I give it a try. Besides helping take my mind off the kid and that woman’s lip, it settles and centers me like all the other breathing exercises I’ve tried so far.”

And did it work? “Although it may be coincidence, 10 days later as I write this I have none of the anticipated sniffles or scratchiness from the trip. In fact, I’m intrigued enough to have written the drill on the back of a business card that I tucked into my travel briefcase. I intend to experiment some more the next time I’m at 30,000 feet.”

Read his full post at here. And don’t forget to visit

Healthier Living & Better Breathing with Health Txts

mind-150x130Our good friend Fred Muench over at Mobile Health Interventions just let us know about a great new service they have just recently launched called Health Txts. This handy new service allows you to have specialized messages sent to your mobile device to help you change behaviors and reach your goals more quickly. Message categories span the spectrum – everything from healthy eating and exercise, reducing drinking and drug use, gambling and smoking cessation, to stress management and dental hygiene. Health Care professionals can even create customized programs for their own clients!

This type of messaging has been shown to be a powerful way of behavior modification as it is constantly available and can help guide you through your weakest moments. Best of all, it is free during their launch.

Fred has a lot of experience in this area. He was one of the brains behind the Stress Eraser, a cool biofeedback device for triggering the body’s natural relaxation response through guided breathing. He was also one of the key contributors to the Breath Pacer mobile application, which also helps to develop the habit of slow deep breathing.

These are great products that we highly recommend. If you are serious about improving your health, performance, and emotional well-being, learn to develop your most powerful asset – your breath. It can make a world of difference in every dimension of your life.

Please check out our website for more great product information.

Curing Email Apnea

3062892657_2f0ce222d4_o-300x181A while back I heard a funny and yet disturbing term – “Email Apnea.” This term was coined3062892657_2f0ce222d4_o by Linda Stone a few years ago after she noticed that she held her breath while opening emails. She also noticed that nearly everyone else that she observed was doing the same thing.

Unfortunately, this affliction is not just limited to opening emails. It pervades nearly every aspect of our lives, from waiting to see who’s number comes up on caller-id when the phone rings to, to getting caught behind a slow driver when you are in a hurry.

The other day, my laptop hard drive made it clear that it was in its death-throes. I had a fair amount of work on it that was not backed up. I quickly attached a back-up drive, which promptly informed me that it would take six minutes to copy the files. About 2 minutes in I realized that I had stopped breathing as I watched the seconds tick by – apparently thinking that suffocating myself would move those bits across the cable just a bit faster.

Once you begin to develop an awareness of your breath, you begin to notice more and more often the situations that cause you to hold your breath – and there are hundreds of them. In many cases not only is holding your breath counter-productive, but focusing on your breath can actually be extremely beneficial. That is why athletes, actors, musicians, and performing artists of all kinds integrate these techniques into their disciplines. Of course the breath is critical to providing energy to your muscles, but it also has a dramatic effect on your emotions, your ability to manage stress and anxiety, and it is also the doorway to that in-the-moment creative space referred to as the zone.

Develop an awareness of your breath. It will become a very powerful resource in those moments where you really need it and can dramatically impact your health, emotions, and physical performance. Once you begin to become aware of the moments and situations that are stealing your breath, you’ll realize that most of them make about as much sense as holding your breath when you open an email!

To learn how to start developing your breath awareness, download our free “Get Started Now” e-book.