Juli and Seb are Yoga instructors and are working towards opening their own studio soon. Julie was also a competitive gymnast and a coach for many years. As you can imagine, we spent a lot of time "talking shop" as well as catching up on personal stuff. The super bonus was learning some Yoga postures and breath techniques from Julie that I had never done before. Of course, I've been taking those lessons and thinking about how they apply directly back to the ice.
One of the keys to strength, endurance, and health through yoga is the concentration on breath. When and how you breathe is as important as simply remembering to breathe. Yoga isn't alone in this teaching, either. In karate, taekwondo and other martial arts, attention is paid to exactly how proper breathing can affect the power of every hit and kick.
It struck me that ice skating should be no different. By paying attention to your breath you should be able to increase your power and endurance, and in some case even improve your technique instantly. With the theory in mind, I tried some experiments. You can bet that my students will be seeing more of these experiments in their future training sessions!
The next time you are on the ice, try this exercise on for size:
First, do two laps of power three turns in each direction as you normally do. This is just to establish a baseline of your performance and feel what your three turns are like normally.
Next, do a lap of power three turns in whichever direction you prefer using a special breathing pattern.
- As you take your preparatory steps, breathe deeply a few times.
- Just before your first three turn, breathe in through your nose
- As you perform the three turn, breath out through your mouth.
- Breathe in through your nose as you do the back crossover.
- As you step forward and through each three turn, breathe out through your mouth, and then breathe in through your nose during each back crossover.
Try this exercise for a few laps in each direction.
Did it feel different?