In his book” Body, Mind and Sport,” John Douillard explores how we can exercise effortlessly at Peak Performance every day. Many athletes, including Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova have followed John’s protocol with great success! We are all familiar with “the zone.” It is a state of being where athletes say “my best race was my easiest race,” or to quote Billy Jean King, “I would transport myself beyond the turmoil of the tennis court to a place of peace and calm. “
The experience of “the zone” all comes down to breathing and the ancient principles of Pranayama. Pranayama is a type of yogic breath regulation designed to control one’s vital energy. In the yogic view, proper breathing brings more oxygen and blood to the brain and controls the Prana or life-force. Breathing through one’s nose is the first step to learning how to exercise effortlessly. The next step is to cue your body to relax and visualize what it is that you would like to do. This becomes a type of meditation where you maintain peak performance while at the same time you are in a deep state of relaxation.
John has done extensive research on mouth breathing verses nose breathing during exercise and its effects on the autonomic nervous system. The goal is to reach a level of respiratory efficiency which allows you to increase your activity level while simultaneously slowing your heart rate. During conventional mouth breathing, the sympathetic nervous system goes up and the parasympathetic system goes down. During nose breathing, the sympathetic or fight or flight response only goes up to 50% and the calming, parasympathetic nervous system, which normally goes way down increases by 50%.
The experience of “the zone” is the co-existence of opposites where the athlete is fully engaged in dynamic activity while simultaneously the nervous system is in a neurological state of peace and calm. During this state of exercise, the mind learns how to cope with stress from a calm, meditative place. This is what we mean when we say the mind, body and spirit connection! The human body holds infinite wisdom, make your way to one of our many yoga classes and begin to explore this concept. All you have to do is follow your breath.
Holistic Wellness Coach/Consultant
BA Psychology/Sports Nutrition/Food as Medicine