Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn't it? How can a slow, calming and meditative yoga practice make you quicker? Best-selling productivity expert David Allen answered it best when he said "a tense muscle is a slow one." Relaxed, unrestricted muscles are the quickest. Ask this boxing champion, who cites yoga as the key to his success, and researchers of elite sprinters.
Of course, being able to contract our muscles forcefully is critical to quickness, but often overlooked is the equal importance of relaxing the muscles afterward so that they can be maximally and efficiently contracted again.
Relaxation is the key not just for physical quickness, but for mental quickness as well. By relaxing our minds and focusing our attention, we become more aware, more agile, and better able to react. Chess master Josh Waitzkin, who can play up to 50 games of chess simultaneously, cited meditation as one of his most important training practices.
To quote David Allen again, mental quickness comes when we reach "mind like water." Water perfectly and immediately reacts to stimulus, and then relaxes again to stillness. We want our minds to be calm like water.
Whether you are looking for an edge in physical competition or in intellectual challenges, relaxation is the key. Mind like water, yogis!