Focus on your deep abdominal breathing and mentally repeat a mantra to aid concentration.
As a part of our series about “How Athletes Optimize Their Mind & Body For Peak Performance”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Christine Martitiz.
Christine Martitz is a certified Yoga Instructor and has instructed students at all fitness levels and ages throughout Europe, Asia, South and North America. Living in NYC, she founded the Dive into Yoga, Inc. and created her own yoga DVD ’Dive into Yoga’ that was filmed by a 3x Emmy Award Winner. Martitz ran three NYC Marathons and numerous half-marathons. She is also a certified Scuba Instructor.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to learn more about your personal background. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in Northern Germany and was introduced to yoga when I was 10 years old. When I moved to Munich for an apprenticeship in foreign and export trade which prompted me to study to become a translator and interpreter with focus on economics, I did yoga more intensively and also became a certified yoga instructor. Then, I started to teach all over the world although I was still based in Munich for 10 years and then moved to NYC where I now reside.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career working with high level professional athletes? We’d love to hear the story.
I was teaching at several luxury properties and studios. My reputation and my client list continued to flourish.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
My first yoga instructor inspired me when I was 10 when she was talking about her latest vacation in Tenerife while being in the headstand. She was always very generous with her time and told me how yoga empowered her life. She lived to be 100 years old — I believe thanks to her regular yoga practice.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your sports career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
The agent of a celebrity who I had spoken to before about taking classes with me came to my group yoga class and arrived a bit late. I still let him in but when he awkwardly played with his shoelaces, yes, he hadn’t even taken off his shoes! and started to just look at the yoga practitioners in my class. I politely asked him to leave. I never gave that particular celebrity a yoga lesson due to being too professional but at least it taught me how to approach new situations.
Another mistake I had to pay for during my first NYC Marathon was eating the food that was prepared for Marathoners the night before the actual NYC Marathon which was, as it turned out later, by high-school students who did not seem to know much about cooking. One should not eat something unfamiliar right before a big sporting event. I barely made it over the Queensborough Bridge to the next restroom stop!
What advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your career?
First, remember to just be yourself, like what you do and keep pursuing it without getting distracted. As you start to develop your personality within your career, all of the advice on how to behave and portray yourself within your career can become very overwhelming at times. Remember to focus, love and embrace every aspect of what you do, and never take anything for granted.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
The most interesting thing I am doing is creating yoga apps in 360 degrees, which is available on iTunes, and if people are interested they can download the free Goview360Yoga App on Google Play.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. As you know, athletes often face high stakes situations that involve a lot of pressure. Most of us tend to wither in the face of such pressure and stress. Can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you teach to optimize your mind for peak performance before high pressure, high stress situations?
First, I do Kapalabhati which is not only a breathing exercise (also shown in my DVD) but also a cleansing exercise that I do at least once a day. It is good to do first thing in the morning since it invigorates my entire system and energizes me. It should NOT be done right before going to sleep. I follow this exercise with Anuloma Viloma, the alternate nostril breath that can be done any time of the day. This helps to provide relief from anxiety. It also improves brain, cardiovascular and respiratory health.
Next, I focus on my deep abdominal breathing. I noticed most people breathe too shallow, especially when being in a rush.
Train your brain and not just your body by applying all of the above.
Do you teach any special or particular breathing techniques to help optimize yourself?
I focus on Kapalabhati which as mentioned before is not only a breathing exercise but a cleansing one as well. That and more is shown and explained in my Yoga DVD.
Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions?
My daily morning and sometimes evening meditation practice focuses on the very moment and on the breath.
How about your body? Can you share a few strategies that you use to optimize your body for peak performance?
A proper diet, in my case a vegetarian diet, works for me along with staying sufficiently hydrated and dedicating enough time to recovery — in other words: always listen to your own body.
I practice yoga every day. This not only helps me focus but also helps keep me injury-free.
These ideas are excellent, but for most of us in order for them to become integrated into our lives and really put them to use, we have to turn them into habits and make them become ‘second nature’. Has this been true in your life? How have habits played a role in your success?
Meditate. Having everything quiet down lets me get a clear perspective and makes me ready for the tasks at hand.
Can you share some of the strategies you have used to turn the ideas above into habits? What is the best way to develop great habits for optimal performance? How can one stop bad habits?
Work your yoga practice and specific exercise routines into your daily schedule and stick to it. Choose a few studios nearby to get your yoga practice in or have a private yoga instructor over before you leave in the morning.
High performance athletes often experience times when things are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a mind state of Flow more often in our lives?
As an athlete, when I run, I am completely focused on the movement and nothing else. I become very goal-oriented and temporarily lose my sense of time. I become totally absorbed by running and feel less self-conscious.
Do you have any meditation practices that you use to help you in your life? We’d love to hear about it.
Yes, I meditate every morning right after waking up. I meditate for up to 1/2 hour and would start with aforementioned breathing exercises.
Many of us are limited by our self talk, or by negative mind chatter, such as regrets, and feelings of inferiority. Do you have any suggestions about how to “change the channel” of our thoughts? What is the best way to change our thoughts?
Focus on your deep abdominal breathing and mentally repeat a mantra to aid concentration.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are by all accounts a very successful person. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I am currently investing my time in my yoga practice and am working on the free revolutionary ’GoView360Yoga’ App which shows me practice in 360 degrees in this technology breaking invention and also shows the viewer Wellness for the Mind, Body and Soul as well healthy and Eco-friendly lifestyles.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
“Karma is a bitch only if you are.” Karma is specifically a principle in Hinduism and Buddhism that you receive what you give.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)
His Holiness The Dalai Lama.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.
About The Interviewer: Maria Angelova, MBA is a disruptor, author, motivational speaker, body-mind expert, Pilates teacher and founder and CEO of Rebellious Intl. As a disruptor, Maria is on a mission to change the face of the wellness industry by shifting the self-care mindset for consumers and providers alike. As a mind-body coach, Maria’s superpower is alignment which helps clients create a strong body and a calm mind so they can live a life of freedom, happiness and fulfillment. Prior to founding Rebellious Intl, Maria was a Finance Director and a professional with 17+ years of progressive corporate experience in the Telecommunications, Finance, and Insurance industries. Born in Bulgaria, Maria moved to the United States in 1992. She graduated summa cum laude from both Georgia State University (MBA, Finance) and the University of Georgia (BBA, Finance). Maria’s favorite job is being a mom. Maria enjoys learning, coaching, creating authentic connections, working out, Latin dancing, traveling, and spending time with her tribe. To contact Maria, email her at [email protected]. To schedule a free consultation, click here.