Zen Breathing & BOO in a Jar

25 Sat, 2010 § 2 Comments

I could be 40 feet up.  I could be 100 feet.  I could be just 5 feet.

My movements on the rock suddenly become desperate rather then fluid & controlled.  My muscles are surrendering.  My body is tired, & I have met the crux.  My relaxed, confident grasp morphs into the death grip, draining my muscles quickly.  Panic breathing strikes, depleting my muscles further.  I have lost it.  I fall — or worse — let go.  Give up.

Perhaps my endurance failed.  Perhaps my mind failed.  Whichever the case, overcoming The Panic sets extraordinary athletes apart from the rest.

I was introduced to one method of overcoming this at the beginning of the year & am reincorporating it into my training again.  Apart from training the aerobic system & increasing endurance in a gym setting, Breathing Ladders teach breath & mind control as well.

To execute a Breathing Ladder, pick a weight & movement,  then set a timer & do one rep followed by one breath, then do two reps followed by two breaths, three reps followed by three breaths, etc. Breathe as much as you want while working; breathe only the specified number of “reps” while resting.  Build your “pyramid” by starting with 1 rep, building to 10 — or even 20 or somewhere in between — then come back down to one.  The idea is to draw the exercise out, making it last as long as possible.  Generally, athletes with an efficient O2 utilization system can make a 1:20:1 pyramid Breathing Ladder last about 45 minutes; some can draw it out an hour or more!

The movement must be “big”, incorporating full-body demand.  I like Kettlebell Swings [we do not have a kettlebell, so I used a 12-lb medicine ball which could have been heavier].  The point is oxygen consumption & efficiency: big movements cause a great oxygen demand.  Pull-ups do not work because the muscle mass is too small to create significant O2 demand before muscle acidity & fatigue cause work to cease.

The ideal is to use the perfect combination of movement/load/reps to keep yourself in the zone where “total panic is a single mistake away & Zen-like calm is the prize for those who can reach it.”

[Breathing Ladder source: Gym Jones]


Food is generally a good motivator for me while working out — not during Breathing Ladders though.  Because I wanted these to last as long as possible, I had to constantly brush the image of my awaiting meal from my mind to keep from rushing through.  😛  After 25:47 minutes of 1:10:1 Breathing Ladders, Thursday morning, all I could think was BREAKFAST.

I have had Buckwheat on the brain ever since my friend, Dina, shared a slice of her homemade raw[dehydrated] bread with me.

The light, airy crunch took me by complete surprise — I was expecting a much harder texture — & the deep nutty flavor of the grain won me over immediately.  I. Am. Hooked.

Buckwheat groats are technically not a “grain”, but a fruit seed related to rhubarb & sorrel, making it gluten-free.  A complete protein, rich in vitamins, it is also a good source of dietary fiber, manganese, calcium, iron, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus & potassium.  It is also thought to lower cholesterol.

I wanted to get the benefit of soaking & sprouting these quickies — they only take 1-2 days — & include them in my morning VOO.  Generally partial to parfaits [thanks to Angela, whose overnight oats & parfaits are always out-of-this-world beautiful & delicious!]; but lately I have been leaning toward basic VOOs, simply accenting a key ingredient like end-of-summer peaches.  B-groats would be just the thing to mix it up a bit…but not the only thing…

No, I did not eat sunflower seed butter from the jar for breakfast…not to say this has never happened before… 😛

I have seen a few bloggers rave about cooking oats in an empty nut butter jar to get that last bit out & enhance the flavor of the oats.  Because I do not use a microwave [or eat a lot of cooked oats], I have not tried it yet.  As I scraped the last bit of sunbutter from this guy though, I knew right away he would be the medium for my next soakage.

BOO [Buckwheat Overnight Oats]

  • ~½ C Buckwheat Groats, sprouted
  • ~½ C Oats
  • 1-2 T Chia seeds
  • substantial sprinkle of Cinnamon
  • dash Sea Salt
  • Rice milk to just cover
  • Combine & whisk in an empty nut butter container.
  • Store in refrigerator overnight.
  • Next day stir ins: that delicious side of chopped, fresh, local peach & a scoop of Hemp Protein Powder.

*I used all the oats [just over ½ C] & groats [just under ½ C] I had on hand; so about 1:1.  I enjoy the groats so much I will probably increase the amount of groats & decrease the oats next time.

*This was closer to two servings for me, which I had intended to save for a couple mornings.  I mixed it all up while making dinner & “tested” a couple spoonfuls while watching Man vs Wild later on.  WARNING: If you make your VOO too early in the evening, it will likely disappear before the next morning.  Fortunately, there was still plenty to refuel me after my breathing ladders.

*Also, while the texture of BOO differed subtly from VOO & was rather delicious, I enjoy the soft crunch of b-groats which is missing after soaking them.  To recapture this texture, I will dehydrate them after they sprout next time & add them as a stir-in rather than soaking with the oats.


I am super excited to experiment with B-Groats — raw granola, snack bars, crackers!  Any great original recipes out there?


Do you ever incorporate “mental” training into your workouts?

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