Your Breath is Your Power

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Whether you practice martial arts, run marathons, do rock climbing, play soccer, go mountain biking or any other strenuous physical activity, your endurance and power really come down to one common denominator: Your Breath.

How you breathe, its depth, smoothness and rapidity can make the world of difference when you are playing, training or exercising. This is an exhaustive topic, but I wanted to touch upon some basics here in this post when it comes to your breathing.

To start, if you observe children and especially babies and how they breathe you can see they breathe naturally and fully.  They take deep belly breaths. The abdomen and lower diaphragm expands on the inhale, filling up the lungs completely before the exhale.

As we grow older, we tend to breathe shallower and shallower unfortunately.  In many cases people breathe in without filling the bottom portion or lower lobes.  This can ultimately lead to many different problems, but a major benefit of deep belly breathing is that more oxygen is brought into the body which ultimately helps to cleanse out toxins (carbon dioxide) from the body any stagnant air in the lungs. It also helps to oxygenate the blood more which results also in a higher level of performance when one is active.

In other words, when you have no wind, you are dead tired and weak.  A good way to minimize this, or delay it when training or in activity is to train the breath accordingly.  Through regular training our cardiovascular system and conditioning gradually become stronger.

We can augment this dramatically through different breathing techniques and breathing exercises (also known as chi gong, chi kung, chi gung, qi gong etc). This type of internal training can be very powerful and has numerous health benefits, not to mention of course increasing one’s endurance and power.

Two Chi Breathing Techniques You Can Use Anytime, Anywhere

I’m going to mention two other breathing techniques (beside learning to start to breathing deep – long inhale and long exhale belly breathing that I mentioned above) in this post that you can start incorporating on a daily basis to help train and strengthen you lung capacity and ultimately your endurance and power.

The great part is you can do these anywhere, anytime (when you’re not talking to someone or in the middle of an important meeting that is :) like driving your car, taking a walk, sitting on a park bench, etc.

Technique #1

Okay so the first technique, also known as yang chi breathing goes like this: You take a short inhale (still deep breathing) and then a long exhale through your mouth. Your inhale should only last one to two seconds, and the exhale should last a least five to ten seconds. As you get better at doing the breathing exercises, your exhale breath will last longer (15 – 30 seconds and even longer, you will gradually get better control).

I’ve gotten my exhale to last well over a minute just as an example. To make sure you are doing it right you want to make a low audible noise (sub-vocal) sound while exhaling. You should make a ‘hahhhhh’ type sound. If you put your hand in front of your mouth, you should feel your exhale/air only but slightly, just a little bit.  If the exhale is too strong you are exhaling too quick and should slow down.

Technique #2

The second technique is yin chi breathing. This is basically the opposite of the above technique. Here you want to inhale making the same audible noise (‘hahhhh sound) through your mouth. Make sure you are actually taking in air flow and not just making the sound when inhaling and slowly filling up you lungs.

You want to make your inhale (still deep breathing) last as long as you can and then when your lungs are full you want to exhale quickly in a second or so expelling everything.  When you exhale, it will be almost like an explosion, a quick ‘hooo’ type sound. .

I learned the yin/yang breathing exercises originally from an excellent internal mastery program I bought called Chi Power Plus some years back. Both above exercises and deep belly breathing in general should be practiced everyday to gain proficiency and become more comfortable to you. You can practice them in sets, maybe 10 each for example everyday, periodically throughout the day.

The yin chi breathing is supposed to help you attract things and the yang chi breathing repel. Whether that’s the case or not I honestly don’t know. But I can attest personally that I have practiced these exercises and they have definitely made my lung capacity stronger and increased my endurance and power. I’ve notice the difference especially when it comes to running and doing my martial arts.

Advanced Method of Applying These Techniques

A bit of an advanced method of applying them is doing them right in between workout reps (pushups, squats, sprints, weight training etc.) They are obviously more difficult to do then, as you are already shorter on breath thus making them more advanced. What will happen then if you do them in between sets of a workout regimen is that you will intensify your breath training regimen much quicker and really push yourself to the limit.

I would hold off on doing it this way or adding this in until you gain some proficiency and have been doing them for some time already (think a few months at least).  I have some other great breathing and chi gong training exercises I will be sharing in future posts.

But for now try these out, be patient with them and give them some time. You can time yourself on inhale and exhale and you’ll gradually see your improvement as your long inhales (yin breathing) and long exhales (yang breathing) lengthen over time. Try them and see if how work for you!


Best Natural Ingredients for Muscle & Joint Pain Relief

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Pain relief seems like a good topic to write my first blog post about, since it’s something we all deal with as humans and especially as athletes.

It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties when I started training much harder in martial arts and pushing my strength training to a new level, did I look into what was available on the market for pain relief that was safe and natural.  When I was a kid and a teenager, I never bothered taking anything as I didn’t think much of pain because I just played through it and healed much quicker back then it seemed.

Once I started to have to deal with pain more often because of my increased training, sustained injuries and increasing age, I wanted only to use only natural ingredients that could help me and have no side effects. So naturally I looked into all kinds of natural ingredients and herbs that could help me to hasten recovery from bumps, bruises and strains in training and of course lessen the pain.

It’s not surprising that it turns out that some of the natural ingredients I used individually for topical pain relief I ended up using as part of our formulation of our Warrior Rx Muscle and Joint Pain Relief product.  One of the first that I researched and looked into was Arnica, a natural herb used in homeopathic medicines for pain relief since the 1500’s.  This herb grows in the mountains of Europe & Siberia and is used topically in a variety of forms to soothe muscle aches, reduce inflammation & heal wounds.  I remember using it when I started doing judo as the first few weeks I got some good sized bruises from training, it definitely helped reduce my pain and speed recovery.

Another all natural ingredient I heard about and began to use was Wintergreen Oil (also known as Methyl salicylate).  Wintergreen oil is used in many topical pain relieving products, as its chemical makeup is essentially that of liquid aspirin. It is very potent on it’s own and must be diluted if used as a topical standalone product. Blended with other essential oils, it can help relieve arthritis and reduce inflammation in joints and muscles dramatically.  At the time, I bought some popular topical products that had Methyl salicylate as the main ingredient in them (which is a safer bet than diluting or blending the oil yourself). I did buy Wintergreen oil eventually as a stand-alone product when I started looking deeper into pain relieving herbs and into this amazing oil.

I found that Menthol is used a lot in conjunction with Wintergreen oil in many pain relieving products and is another amazing natural ingredient I use and recommend.  Menthol is a compound primarily derived from peppermint or other mint oils.  It is similar to Wintergreen (methyl salicylate), as it is an anti-inflammatory and causes a cooling sensation when applied to topically.   An effective pain reliever, menthol has been shown in double-blind, placebo-controlled studies published in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology and the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity to be among the world’s most effective pain-relievers for osteoarthritis.

I’m sure you have heard of using Cayenne Pepper as an addition to flavor dishes to make them spicier and hotter. It also has a rich history of being used for medicinal purposes. Native Americans have used it for over 9,000 years for healing and ceremonial use. Cayenne acts to eliminate, or “burn up,” substance P – a compound that carries pain messages to your brain. Capsaicin is the principal active ingredient of cayenne pepper. Capsaicin has been shown to be effective for easing pain caused by arthritis and nerve conditions when applied topically as a liniment or taken internally as a supplement. When I learned about this, I started looking for topical ointments and creams that contained cayenne and even tried taking it internally as a capsule.

Another natural ingredient I started looking into and ultimately using was Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). MSM is a natural, safe and odorless sulfur compound found in the human body.  It has essential sulfur and methyl groups that are used in healing and repair processes such as supporting connective tissue repair and regeneration. MSM is known to speed relief from inflammation and promote lasting healing. It is also naturally cleanses and detoxifies and ultimately promotes healthy circulation by neutralizing free radical molecules. It is normally taken internally but can be used topically with DMSO which transports any other ingredients it is mixed with directly to the source of pain.

The last ingredient I will mention in this post is Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). DMSO is known to multiply chemical reactions in combination with other ingredients as it is a near perfect solvent and transporter. It is also used alone and is an organic, sulfur-rich substance found in the woody part of trees. I found out from a friend who recommended it to me and eventually gave me some pure DMSO that it is commonly used in veterinary medicine as a liniment for horses!  Well if they used it treat race horses for pain relief I figured it could help relieve my muscle and joint pain too!

It has an amazing range of uses (can be taken by mouth, used topically, or given intravenously even) but I will only mention here as it is related to topical treatment for pain relief.  I found that DMSO is used topically to decrease pain and speed the healing of wounds, burns, and muscle and skeletal injuries. DMSO is also used topically to treat painful conditions such as headache, inflammation, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis… truly an incredible natural compound.

That’s it for now, I will write about some other amazing natural ingredients that you could use to help relieve muscle and joint pain in future posts.  Of course, these super effective ingredients can be found in Warrior Rx Muscle & Joint Pain Relief Sports Rub.