Breathing is the most important physiological function of your body. You can live 40 days without food, ten days without water, but only five to ten minutes without oxygen.
The whole world is shut down now because of the fear of spreading the contagious Coronavirus respiratory illness from person to person. Fortunately for us in the Carolinas, our golf courses and forests are still operational so we can get outside and breathe in the life enhancing natural oxygen produced by the trees. With the focus on our lungs now, it is important to remember why breathing is so important for our golf success as well as our health.
Don’t forget to breathe
The way you breathe can directly affect your emotional state. When we are frustrated or angry, most people breathe in, tense their bodies and hold their breath. Most golfers say that they hold their breath when they are hitting the golf ball. Holding your breath causes more tension, which inhibits your smooth swing motion. When you hold your breath, you hold the carbon dioxide waste product in your cells, in your blood and in your lungs. Ventilators are in demand now because they keep oxygen moving into the lungs, brain, heart and kidneys to give the lungs a chance to fight off the virus infection.
Under stress you breathe high in your chest, which means that only half of the capacity of the lungs is being used. When you use the entire lung capacity, fresh oxygen is coming in to fill it all up. The brain is then more fully oxygenated.
Your breathing is a good indicator of your feelings and thinking patterns. Proper breathing can relieve stress-related symptoms such as performance anxiety. It is important to keep your breathing even for consistent golf.
The secret to healthy breathing is in the abdomen
If you watch a sleeping baby breathe, or watch someone who is sleeping, you will see this relaxed, natural breathing as the stomach protrudes on the inhale and falls on the exhale. We have been taught to relieve tension by sucking in our stomachs, taking in a big breath and letting our chest and shoulders rise as we stand tall. This creates tension and tightness in your chest and shoulder muscles. In golf we need to have these muscles relaxed so we can make a full shoulder turn to set up the torque for maximum club acceleration.
Less tension creates greater clubhead speed. Greater clubhead speed creates more distance.
Deep breathing is the key to relaxation. The more you relax, the better you feel. The more you relax, the better you play. The more you relax, the easier it is to focus. And the more you relax, the more powerful your mind is.
My personal preference to relax before hitting any shot on the golf course is to take in three deep breaths (through the abdomen) during my preshot routine. I take in one deep conscious breath each to calm and focus my mind, body and spirit.
Here are four important reasons for using deep breathing on the golf course:
- Breathing deeply relaxes your muscles.
- Breathing deeply clears and focuses your mind.
- You will have more energy and less fatigue.
- Breathing deeply keeps your arousal level constant.
Pay attention to how you breathe. If your abdominal area is not filling up with air, you are not breathing the most efficient way for your mental, emotional, and physical health. By breathing naturally, your heart will beat slower and your entire body will relax. As you relax your body, your busy conscious mind will begin to relax and let go of worrisome thinking. Your focus on what you are doing will become easier and sharper. Now while you are quarantined at home, take advantage of the free time to practice removing your tensions by sitting alone in the quiet, breathing deeply and allowing any fear or anxiety to drain out of your body. Enjoy breathing and being alive.
Be well. Follow the health guidelines. Be safe. Just be.
Play “in the zone” with Joan
Entrain Your Heart & Mind for Peak Performances
Use your quarantined time to train your brain to play your best golf, by listening to Positive Mental Imagery self-hypnosis guided imagery CDs in the privacy of your own home. Available at www.pmi4.com/cart
If you aren’t able to maintain trust and belief in yourself on the golf course, email Joan at email@example.com or call 828.696.2547 for a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation about developing a new strategy. Learn what is missing in your golf game so you can achieve the success you desire.
“THE HEART OF GOLF, Access Your Supreme Intelligence for Peak Performances” explores and explains negative emotions such as fear and performance anxiety, the four Cs of mind blockage, the four progressive stages of learning the supreme intelligence of the heart, and the way to access the zone in competition. It is a player’s guide for developing your true inner self by returning to the joy and love of self instead of seeking praise and rewards from the outside world.
“THE HEART OF GOLF” guidebook for transforming your life and golf game is available now on Amazon and Kindle at https://amzn.to/2MQzjfq
All royalties will be donated to Junior Golf!