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Breath Training To Take Control Of Body And Mind

breath training and heart rate monitor

I’m on a mission, to find the combinations of movement and breath training that trigger the most powerful flow states. I’ve experimented with different types of movement - running, functional fitness, punching bag sessions, yoga, and the list continues to grow. I’ve also experimented with different breathing techniques - diaphragmatic breathing, the physiological sigh, box breathing, fire breathing, and more. 

A lot goes into creating the perfect flow experience. Find the right combination of movement and breath and trigger a mind-shifting, consciousness-elevating neurochemical reaction that will have you feeling and performing your best. As a coach, my goal isn’t only to find the best flow-triggering formulas, it’s also to find ways to help others use these formulas and achieve their own peak performance states. But as I’ve learned, there’s more to flow than just moving and breathing. For the formula to work, you have to move with the right intention, and the right intensity, and find a movement style that you connect with. 

But where most people struggle with the formula is breathing. Flow is triggered by a combination of struggle and release. In this case, movement provides the struggle, and breathing provides the physical and emotional release required for the transition to flow to happen.  But achieving that release requires more than just a few deep breaths. It also requires the ability to take control of your thoughts and bring your mind into the present moment. This is where most people struggle with breath training and meditation. Closing your eyes and focusing your mind can be very challenging for most people, especially when you’re getting started. But, there are a few ways you can make things easier for yourself, and as a performance coach, my job is to help you find those strategies. 

Movement and meditation

The first is to move before you breathe. A medium to high-intensity movement session, preferably at least 15-20 minutes long, will help kickstart the neurochemical reaction you need for flow, and it will help clear your mind and slow down your thoughts. 

Another strategy you can try, and this is one I just started using recently with very positive results, is to focus on your heart rate. You’ll need a heart rate monitor for this one, preferably a device and app that allows you to watch your heart rate live while you’re breathing. I use the Whoop device and app. By placing the app in front of me, I can observe my heart rate and my goal is to get it as low as possible by focusing on my breathing. This helps in a few ways. First, the lower my heart rate gets, the calmer and more focused I feel. But the secret behind this strategy is that focusing on my heart rate in this way prevents me from focusing on anything else, especially my thoughts. Once you get the hang of it, it feels like a game. Think of it as “How low can you go?”. 

Of course, to get the most out of this practice, you need to know how to breathe. A good breathing technique to get you started is Diaphragmatic Breathing (check out this tutorial). 

You can also watch the video below where I demonstrate a breath training session using a heart rate monitor.

Patrick Sebastien

Performance Coach


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