Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Sun Salute

Previous article from the same series: Dart Vader Ujjayi Breathing

The Sun Salute, or, as called in Indian tradition - Surya Namaskar, is one of the most efficient warming up exercises I know.

This exercise stretches the whole body; warms up the muscles and prepares you in a balanced way for your beloved sport activity.

Before your training, as a warming up, you can do 10-15 rounds of surya namaskar, at fast or increasingly faster pace. Surya namaskar is also a very good cooling down exercise. After your training you can do again 10 rounds, this time at a slower pace, with longer stretching poses.

You can connect – actually it is good that you do it – the movements with a rhythmical breathing. If you can do it with Dart Vader Ujjayi breathing, even better.

In my experience, the Sun Salute decreases the time spent in warming up and preparing for windsurfing. For example, 5 minutes of good, fast rounds of Sun Salute, together with ujjayi breathing, is equal to 20 minutes of classical warming up with stretching, running, jumping, or such things. Actually, when on the shore most of the time you don't have enough space to do proper warming up. For Sun Salute all you need is two square meters of space!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Darth Vader Ujjayi Breathing

Strange title denoting a very useful technique! Watch the video and this combination of famous sci-fi character and ancient yogic breathing skills will become clear.

Important notice
In the video I used the original "Star Wars Theme" by John Williams. Due to copyrighted material, YouTube noticed me that in some countries (for example in Germany) it will not be possible to watch the video. My apologies for that. If above video is not playable for you, you can try to watch it via Vimeo. Here is the LINK TO VIDEO.

Here are some additional explanations.

Intensity of "rushing sound"
It may be that I overdone the intensity of the "darth vader" sound in the video, but I did it with an intention to make it audible. "Snoring" sound may come into picture when overall activity becomes equally vigorous. Have in mind that breathing like this should not be grueling, but pleasurable. You should not strain. Just breathe comfortably, while narrowing the glottis.

In the video you have two examples - slow breathing (suitable for 50-60% of your maximum heart rate), and faster breathing (suitable for 65% up to 85% of your maximum heart rate). However, how slow or how fast will you breathe, depends on your body!

Start with slow pace, build it up in balanced warming up exercise of your choice (in the next article you will learn about Sun Salute, one of the most efficient warming up practices). For example, 10 inhale/exhale rounds per minute can be good starting point.

Of course, you should try to keep the breathing pace as low as possible, while inhaling enough oxygen. With time, the breathing pace will go down, the heart rate also, but the intensity of your movements will go up.

Time is required

The use of the “Darth Vader Ujjayi breathing" is one of the most important steps in training for the experience of the Zone. However, adjusting the body to a new way of functioning is a slow process. You will need at least 4 to 6 months to become an expert in it. In the meantime, it is possible that your performance will temporarily go down. Namely, you will have a tendency to switch to mouth breathing. And, during the moments of the greatest effort, it will be hard to keep the Ujjayi rhythm, so you will slip back into the old habit. If you wish to continue with Ujjayi breathing, you will have to slow down. With time, the body will adjust to new way of oxigen intake.

Professional athletes usually don't have time to make such an adjustment to their body. They can't afford to go down with results for so long, in spite of the fact that in the long run, results may become better.

Recreational athletes are in a better position. We have time to do it. There is no pressure regarding the results. And it is worth of every second spent in trying the new method! Once you adjust your body, the potential for improvement is unimaginable.

Once you are able to breathe like this during the whole time of your training, you can take two different directions:

1. If you are performance orientated, you can keep the breathing pace and heart rate at the same level, while increasing your strength, speed, endurance, or whatever is the measure of your sport performance.

2. If you are experience orientated, you can make breathing pace and heart rate even lower, while keeping the performance on the same level, thus creating in your consciousness fantastic experience of "doing nothing" while "doing everything". The experience of the Zone will be open to you!