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How Does Breathwork Work for Athletes and High Performance?

Welcome to dive into the world of breathwork for high performance and athletes with me! :) It might sound crazy but the power of your breath can unlock more of your inner potential and elevate your performance.

So in this blog post, I will shortly explore the fascinating science behind breathwork and delve into the transformative, scientific benefits of breathwork on athletes and high performers.

Prepare to discover how your breath can become a catalyst for achieving peak performance and tapping into your fullest capabilities… Keep reading below how! :)

breathwork for high performance

The Science Behind Breathwork:

 Breathwork, at its core, involves consciously regulating and manipulating the breath to achieve specific outcomes or just feel the flow of the breath. Through various techniques, it engages the body’s autonomic nervous system, impacting physiological processes and creating profound effects on physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Short Breathwork Sessions:

Even brief breathwork sessions have been shown to produce immediate benefits. By engaging in intentional breathing exercises, such as deep diaphragmatic breathing (that’s a nightmare to pronounce for me hahah), you can activate the body’s relaxation response. This activates the parasympathetic nervous system, leading to reduced stress, lowered heart rate, and enhanced focus and concentration. Short breathwork sessions can be ideal for pre-performance rituals, allowing athletes and high performers to center themselves, calm their minds, and access a state of optimal readiness.

Going deeper with longer breathwork journeys

For a more immersive experience, breathwork journeys offer a profound exploration of the mind-body connection. These longer sessions typically involve specific breathing patterns, guided visualization, and music to induce altered states of consciousness. During these journeys, breathwork can unlock emotions, help create new connections and thoughts, release tension and trauma, and promote deep healing and transformation through those.

​These are crucial for athletes and high performance when you want to reach new levels. You are always limited by your mind so knowing more about your mind and being able to release those limitations becomes the new game within the game.

The Scientific Benefits of Breathwork for Athletes and High Performance:

Increased Performance: Breathwork optimizes oxygen intake, enhancing physical performance and endurance. By improving respiratory efficiency, athletes can maintain peak performance levels for longer durations, achieving new personal bests.

Mental Resilience: Breathwork cultivates mental resilience by training the mind to remain calm and focused, even in high-pressure situations. Athletes can better manage stress, overcome challenges, and perform at their best, free from distractions.

Stress Reduction: High-performance environments often come with stress and pressure. Breathwork provides a powerful tool for athletes and high performers to reduce stress levels, promoting overall well-being and preventing burnout.

Enhanced Recovery: Breathwork promotes relaxation and activates the body’s natural recovery processes. Athletes can experience accelerated recovery, reduced muscle soreness, and improved sleep quality, allowing for optimal training and performance.

Real-Life Examples from breathwork:

It’s not only me who is using breathwork with athletes… Renowned athletes and high performers have embraced breathwork and witnessed its transformative effects firsthand. Take, for instance, professional tennis player Novak Djokovic, who incorporates breathwork as part of his mental preparation, allowing him to maintain focus and composure during intense matches. Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps has also credited breathwork techniques for calming his mind, enhancing his performance, and achieving record-breaking results in the pool.

​Breathwork has been a tool that has been used at the elite levels and now it is coming to you! I don’t know about you but for me this is super exciting! 🙂


Breathwork is not merely a trend; it is a powerful tool rooted in scientific understanding and supported by real-life success stories. By consciously harnessing the breath, athletes and high performers can unlock their full potential, cultivate mental and physical resilience, and achieve extraordinary results. So, take a deep breath, maybe with me and see the benefits of breathwork for yourself, whether you are an athlete or a high performing individual or a team!

Remember, the key to experiencing the full benefits of breathwork is practice, guidance, and an open mind. Explore the various techniques available, seek professional breathwork facilitators (the facilitators are different and can use different techniques), and witness the remarkable impact it can have on your (athletic) performance and overall high-performance journey!

Saana Koljonen

Research articles:

“The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults” (2015, PMC) This study found that diaphragmatic breathing can improve attention, reduce negative affect, and reduce stress in healthy adults.

“How Breath-Control Can Change Your Life: A Systematic Review on Psycho-Physiological Correlates of Slow Breathing” (2018, PMC) This systematic review found that slow breathing can have a number of positive effects on the autonomic nervous system, the central nervous system, and psychological status.

“Effect of breathwork on stress and mental health: A meta-analysis of randomised-controlled trials” (2022, Nature) This meta-analysis found that breathwork can be an effective intervention for reducing stress and improving mental health.

Brown, RP, et al. Sudarshan Kriya yogic breathing in the treatment of stress, anxiety, and depression: part 1-neurophysiologic model. J Altern Complement Med 2005 Apr;11(2):383-4.

Harvard Medical School. Harvard Health Publications. Stress Management: Approaches for preventing and reducing stress (https://www.health.harvard.edu/SC). May 2009.

Brown, RP, et al. Yoga breathing, meditation, and longevity. Ann N Y Acad Sci 2009 Aug 1172:54-62.

Saana Koljonen

​​P.S. Join my email community for more insights and stories from the world of high-performance. Click [here] to subscribe and let's connect our journeys of personal growth and professional excellence!

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Hi, I Am Saana Koljonen

CEO Of Authentic Excellence LLC

As a mental performance coach/consultant and a certified breathwork facilitator, I specialize in helping athletes and high performers overcome mental barriers and achieve greater success with better speed, joy and confidence.

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