Much has been written around the two words in capitals in today's letter. I bet you've heard talks on this before, and how being more positive is always a GOOD thing no matter what - tomes have quite literally been written on this particular topic.
But while a lot has been said and penned on this, what I'm going to tell you today might be somewhat different from what you've heard - or from what you might be expecting me to say.
First off, those of you that read my emails regularly and have purchased my bestselling Fast and Furious Fitness know that I'm big on breathing correctly, both while exercising and otherwise. I've devoted an entire chapter to breathing in the book, and for very good reason (by the way, if you're still "on the fence" about whether or not to purchase the book - that particular chapter alone will get you your money's worth: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book).
And why exactly is deep breathing - done correctly - such a big deal, some of you might ask?
Well, I'm not going to get into the reasons here for obvious reasons, but from a fitness perspective, deep breathing done correctly is ABSOLUTELY VITAL to increasing your levels of fitness, capacity to perform a particular exercise, and just your health in general. Show me someone whose huffing and puffing an uncontrolled manner through the mouth (sound familiar, eh?) and I'll show you someone whose NOT breathing correctly - and more, someone whose likely selling themselves short on many of the fitness benefits they could be getting with the right breathing techniques.
But today's note is not about exercise - it's about more than that. It's about bringing good things into your LIFE - focusing on the positive - and doing this in a way that's not normally said.
I'll explain more in a sec, but here's what I did today (and do a lot of days).
I went for a long, long walk after my regular lung busting hill climb routine. And I mean long - I deliberately chose all the long walking trails in the area I generally walk - some of them more "deserted" than the others, with a lot more greenery and forest in some areas than the other paths.
I did this NOT to get in more exercise (although I got in some as an indirect benefit) - but rather to take the time to simply "zone out" and "be at one with Nature". And the way this is done is to simply BREATHE in the right way - that means from your diaphgram rather than your chest - and exhale correctly as well.
I thought about my goals and what I wanted to accomplish during this time - but funnily enough, my MAJOR focus was NOT my goals - it was on the greenery and FRESH AIR around me. I was feeling invigorated with each deep lungful of air, and that feeling alone is indescribable; so the "goals" and "thoughts" were a secondary focus, if I might put it that way.
Neither was I even thinking about exercise, calories, leg muscles, any of that - I was simply MOVING my body through space while I was ONE with nature.
At peace with myself - for the nonce - and at peace with the rest of the world as well (again, at least for the nonce).
Breathing in the FRESH, cool air deeply, and exhaling just as deeply - and just knowing that something good was going to happen. And guess what - it did - I received a couple of calls I was hoping would come while I was outdoors, and sure enough, like clockwork, they came right at that point.
Now, know that my "belief" in this case was NOT based upon logic, or any facts. NO, this was a deeper belief - from "within", if I may say so - the sort of thing you just "know" will happen. And it usually does, if you focus on the positive, and really "open" your body's "meridians" up to what is possible.
I was NOT actively "hoping" the call would come.
I was NOT actively "trying to feel better".
The only thing I WAS actively trying to do was be at one with Nature, and to "blend into" the spectrum of positive energy that is everywhere, if we just know where to look for it.
And again, the way you do that is via deep breathing. Sure, you need a degree of solitude and Nature in order to make this possible, but the #1 catalyst at work is deep breathing - THAT is what gets the wheels in motion without you even knowing (or caring).
(And when I say Nature, know that you don't need an entire jungle or mountain - the beach - or the meadows - or the park - or even the countryside - it all works just fine!)
I mean, I was so "blissed out" today from this portion of the walk that I literally had a lot of local Chinese come up to me and smile and say hello, despite my obvious inability to communicate with any degree of fluency in Mandarin. And most of them were focusing on why I felt so good - and with good reason - when YOU breathe - and BELIEVE - then the positivity just flows off you in waves, and affects EVERYONE around you, whether you know it or not.
And the same goes for negative behavior, of course - remember the saying about what one bad apple does to the rest?
Anyway, there's way more to this topic than I could cover in one email or several - but for now, know that this is one of the most important practices you can adopt, not just to achieve your fitness goals - but to literally turn around your LIFE and achieve what you want to.
Yes, you heard me - deep breathing (done the right way) will lead you to greater things than you ever believed possible. And I'm working on a brand new book that will focus a LOT on this topic (amongst others) - be on the outlook for it.
Last, but not least, I realize there will be some reading this note that "pooh pooh" what I'm saying, and dismiss it as just another bunch of hooey from the Far East. And truth be told, if you're one of them, I really don't care - and am not going to spend my energies educating you on a topic you obviously are not open to. It's just not worth it.
Other hand, those of you that have opened your mind up to what is possible KNOW what I'm talking about here - and I'm willing to bet the majority of folks reading this email fall into that category.
OK - that's all for now. I'm going to sit back and relax for a while - back again later with more updates from China!
Oh BOY. Got back from my daily climb an hour or so ago, and I'm still buzzed! Feeling like a billion bucks, which I normally do after a tough climb anyway, but the effects have literally been amplified today.
Why? Well, let's just say due to one SIMPLE tweak in my routine, but first, let's discuss the concept of a "natural" high (different from the buzz you get from putting artificial junk such as candy, tobacco etc into your body).
Those that exercise regularly will be familiar with this term - in fact, even those of you that aren't fitness maniacs will have heard of the term "runner's high". This basically refers to the "floating on cloud nine" feeling you get after a long, hard run wherein you literally sweat all the toxins out of your body - and it can be applied to any form of exercise - bodyweight routines, weight lifting, swimming - and - YES - climbing as well!
I tend to refer to my workout high's (when climbing the hill) as a "climber's high", and find this "buzz" to be literally intoxicating and better than any I've ever gotten from other forms of exercise, bar none. I mean think about this - I'm still floating on cloud "twelve", if I might say - and it's already been an hour since I got home (and almost two hours since I reached the peak of the hill).
So, what is so special about climbing that really gets the heart rate up, the muscles working, the blood pounding and the sweat pouring? More importantly, what does climbing a steep hill provide that other exercises simply cannot?
Well, there are many ways to answer this one - and the simplest way would be to say "Hey, do it yourself and you'll find out". End of story.
But, for those of you that don't have a hill nearby (or for those of you that prefer to drive up a hill rather than put your butt in fourth gear), here is my explanation.
First, climbing hills is a fantastic overall body exercise, but it REALLY works the thighs and hips into the ground (especially when one is climbing stairs as opposed to a sloping path). I've said this before, and I'll say it again - work the hips and thighs, and you literally work the entire body. That is where your body's core strength resides, and that is literally the most important part of your body to work out. See Fast and Furious Fitness for more on this.
Second, climbing hills literally FORCES you to breathe deeply, even if you don't want to or don't know "how" to - you simply have no choice BUT to breathe deeply if you want to get up that hill. And whats even better is that working the thighs heavily (the largest muscle group in your body) NATURALLY makes you want to breathe deeply; and this effect is only amplified once you go up a steep incline or a hill.
Third, that deep breathing is really the key to the "high" I'm referring to - it literally purges your body of all toxins, and gives you a clear head in no time at all (especially in cooler weather). And that's not the only benefit - this deep breathing works the upper body big time as well. More on this later.
So, those are a few reasons - but what did I do to amplify this effect to the extent I'm referring to today?
Well, simple - I focused on my breathing.
That's right - that's all I did. I normally try and focus on my breathing anyway when exercising, but I made an extra attempt today, and the results have been nothing short of spectacular.
I made sure to breathe in and out through the nose in a controlled manner even when I was out of breath - instead of "puffing" up the hill like a locomotive would. Sure, there are times this can be hard to do - it's very hard to remember to breathe right when even getting air into your lungs seems like a Herculean task, but the benefits are well worth it.
I also made sure to breathe in from my abdomen, letting my abdomen expand and collapse on each inhale/exhale - which is how we should be breathing in our daily lives anyway. I've written about this before - watch an infant breathe, and you'll see how we were MEANT to breathe as opposed to the "shallow" breathing most adults practice.
This deep breathing, combined with my usual habit of taking the steps two at a time literally worked like a charm - and like I said, I'm still feeling the "buzz" long after I've finished my routine. And this feeling lasts the entire day - can one say the same about a runner's high? Or a caffeine high? Or a tobacco fix?
Not really - at least not in my opinion - and that is what makes the climber's high so special to me!
Anyway, that's the news for today. If you have a steep hill or two nearby, make sure to climb that sucker as part of your workout - and make sure you focus on your breathing while doing so - the results will literally astound you.
Back again soon!
P.S. : - No hill nearby? No problemo, amigo - I have several routines for ya in Fast and Furious Fitness that'll get the blood pumping just as well: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book
I've told you many a time that I require very little to get my workouts accomplished. Minimal equipment (or none at all sometimes), and some space in which to train in - and thats really all I require. In my case, that "space" usually translates into my living room, where I train regularly - that, and in another "spare" room from time to time. And this is great - it ensures I have NO excuses not to train, and if you do the same thing, and follow the same routines as I advocate in Fast and Furious Fitness - YOU too will have no excuses, and will be doing a great service to yourself and your health.
But, while training in one's living room is great - it can never beat training outdoors in fresh air. Never, ever - and I'll sign my name to that one.
My workout this morning was accomplished mostly outdoors. Sprints, "ape" training (I know, I know), pushups and bodyweight dips - and all this in the neighborhood park. This particular park I go to is quiet at certain times of the day, and has a lot of trees and greenery all around - so I absolutely enjoy training there. And training outdoors makes me enjoy doing the ONE thing that is probably the most important thing to take care of in your workout, and yet, also the most ignored. That one thing is DEEP BREATHING.
Ah, the scent of fresh air in one's lungs when one's recovering from a hard set - can't explain the exhilaration of inhaling pure, fresh air when I'm gasping for breath. Deep breathing works well if your indoors as well, but it gives you a special "buzz" if you do it outdoors in good weather - can't really explain it in words - you'll have to experience it for YOURSELF to find out!
And today's workout brought back some special memories, in particular, memories of a trek through the jungle in the Kumon hills of the Indian Himalayas. Now, this was REAL jungle - not a city park - with plenty of wildlife as well (leopards, monkeys, the occasional tiger - you name it). A real, wild jungle in the hills - and one of the first things I remember there is the intoxicating smell of PINE trees all over the place. Absolutely wonderful; it made one feel as if one had stepped right into a gigantic, natural, air freshener - and believe me on this one -you'll be wanting to breathe that air deeply even if you've never exercised in your life!
Anyway, I did a short trek into one of the jungles, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Isolated, natural surroundings - surrounded just by Mother Nature, and the intoxicating and uplifting smell of PINE in the air. And I remember thinking how nice it would be to actually TRAIN in an area like this.
Just think about it - FRESH, mountain air to breathe - the pine is a bonus. Absolute solitude, so you focus on your workout and your workout alone. Sure, you may have to avoid the curious monkey or two - and you may have a hungry feline (a.k.a. Jim Corbett or Rudyard Kipling) observing you at close distance without you being aware of it, but hey, thats the fun of it all, isn't it?
Jokes aside - my point in telling you all this is that NOTHING beats outdoor training. This obviously doesn't apply to places where there's extreme weather - but if there's not, take every opportunity you have to train outdoors. Preferably somewhere with a lot of greenery and trees around you; someplace where the wind blows gently and the air is fresher than a daisy's scent. . .
OK, I don't mean to wax lyrical on this, but you get my point! I'll end here for now - more again tomorrow!
PS: Don't forget to carry your copy of Fast and Furious Fitness with you into the jungle!
PS#2: If you enjoy trekking in jungles, and that sort of thing - then "Man Eaters of Kumaon" by Jim Corbett, the great hunter and outdoors enthusiast is a MUST read for you!
PS #3: And no, I don't endorse hunting of any sort - be it commercial, or for "fun" - except in cases where it's required to "control" the numbers (such as crocodiles in Australia), and neither did Corbett, except when he HAD to. The only shooting I do personally is through a camera, and Corbett was of the same bent of mind. You'll see what I mean when you read the book!
I often come across people jogging and walking in the neighborhood parks, and even on the roads at times. Disciplined folks, folks that make it a point to get their workout in daily, and do so without fail - something which I highly commend. People that run (or walk, if thats their routine) whether it's hot outdoors, or freezing cold. But more often that not, I've found one thing missing in their routines - something so simple they're doing it naturally, without "thinking about it", yet doing it incorrectly.
And that one thing is the way they BREATHE. Breathing, for whatever reason, seems to be out of most people's minds when they train. You'll see folks worrying about the number of reps they do, what exercises they do, correct form, and so forth. Now, all that's fine and dandy - but neglecting to breathe correctly is one of the BIGGEST mistakes you can make in your training.
There are so many benefits associated with deep breathing that it would be nigh impossible to list them all in this email. But for starters - breathing correctly energizes you, and more importantly, helps you RECOVER faster from hard exercises - both DURING and AFTER your routine. It clears your head and purifies your lungs - and perhaps most importantly for most folks - it aids in burning fat. Breathe deeply and frequently during hard exercise, and you will burn way more fat than if your breath is shallow - and unfortunately, that is what most people do.
Always remember to breathe through the nose, and not the mouth (which can be tempting to do during a tough set). And always, always, make sure to breathe correctly DURING the actual exercise itself. I consider a set of pushups half done if you don't breathe correctly - they are that important. And once you do so yourself, you'll understand why I'm saying this. So remember that when you learn an exercise, always learn proper breathing form as well along with the actual exercise itself. I'll have more on this topic later, but for now, rest assured that this is something you need to be paying attention to. I consider this so important that I devote an entire chapter to it in Fast and Furious Fitness.
By the way, this advice applies to all forms of exercise - it doesn't matter if your lifting weights, jumping rope, doing bodyweight stuff - deep breathing lends itself to everything. In fact, it doesn't even matter if your NOT exercising - you should still make deep breathing a part of your daily routine. And once you do so, you'll be amazed at how much better you feel when breathing correctly.
The old timers said it best - YOUR BREATH IS YOUR POWER. And indeed it is - as YOU will find out as well!
And that's the tip for the day. Have a fantastic weekend, and if you train - train hard - and BREATHE correctly while doing so!
PS: Grab your copy of Fast and Furious Fitness now to see what the fuss is all about.
You've been working out hard, but are unable to make progress beyond a certain point. You hammer your muscles hard during an exercise, giving it EVERYTHING you've got, but you are still unable to move beyond a certain point. And even when you do make good progress, you aren't feeling as great as you should be. Assuming all else to be fine (sensible training, no overtraining, enough rest etc) - what is that one missing link that is holding you back from getting as good of a workout as you should be?
Hint: It involves someting you do naturally, something you do without even thinking about. You've been doing it since the day you were born, yet somehow you aren't doing it correctly NOW. It's something simple, something elementary, but amazingly, most of us pay virtually no attention to it.
And that something is DEEP BREATHING, and CONCENTRATING ON YOUR BREATH.
Let me give you an example from today's workout. I did a set of sprints at medium velocity (still not fully healed from my injury a couple of weeks ago, but I'm getting there), followed by pullups and some other exercises which I'll talk about later. Nothing too tough, nothing that serious - in fact I generally do my sprints at a far higher intensity when I'm fully fit - but yet, I'm feeling like a gazillion bucks right now. And the key to this is my BREATHING, and my focus on the same during my workouts.
I focused extra hard on breathing correctly on EACH repetition of the pull-ups. Ditto for my pushups, and super ditto for the sprints - though I did not do them at full speed, I was still working up a pretty decent sweat during the routine, and the reason was correct breathing technique, and actually FOCUSING on how I breathe while exercising.
And the benefits of deep breathing go far, far beyond simply improving your routine/results. You purify and cleanse your lungs while breathing correctly, you bring plenty of benefit to ALL your internal organs, and most of all, it's an INSTANT shot of "energy" that virtually nothing else can give you. I should know - I'm still buzzing after a moderately hard workout, and it's almost an hour after completing my routine!
Think about how YOU would benefit from breathing correctly, and focusing on your breathing during your routine. More importantly, how GOOD would you feel for the rest of the day, and how much more could you get done?
The answer is clear enough. I devote an entire chapter to deep breathing in Fast and Furious Fitness - be sure and check it out if you are interested.
All for now. If you are training today, make it one to remember!
PS: We will soon have a link to our facebook site up on the blog (and website) up as well. For now, you can "like" the posts by clicking on the link beneath a blog post. For example, THIS one.
PS#2: Have an enjoyable and safe weekend!