If you've been feeling undermined in body and mind, there's a perfect exercise to do on the mats before training: it involves slowly inhaling the air, before pulling in another shorter breath to fully inflate your lungs and then exhaling as much air as possible.
The entity recommending at least five minutes a day of this quick, vital exercise is not Master Rickson Gracie or a yoga instructor.
Instead, it's a group of scientists at the prestigious Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, located not far from Rickson's dojo.
According to Melis Yilmaz Balban, a Stanford researcher and author of the study, the benefits are indeed for the whole body, and for all kinds of people, be they athletes or couch potatoes:
"Our understanding of the effects of breathing on the brain and body ought to allow specific science-supported breath practices to be designed in order to improve stress tolerance and sleep, enhance energy, focus, and creativity, and regulate emotional and cognitive states."
In the study, 108 participants were recruited for one month, divided into four groups. The first group, of 30 volunteers, practiced the breathing exercise called cyclic sighing, explained above, every day for five minutes.
The others performed other exercises, such as holding their breath or meditating without paying extra attention to the act of breathing in and out. At the end of the month, all participants reported improvements in mood, anxiety and respiratory rate. The breathing techniques, however, performed better than meditation, with cyclic sighing topping the list.
Among the benefits of the daily exercise, the researchers recorded improved sleep and reduced stress during the day. The results were published in the scientific journal Cell Reports Medicine.
Want to strengthen your lungs and your mind today? Learn how from Master Rickson Gracie in this indispensable class.