Archive for August 7th, 2008

Tidal breathing (The Financial Athlete #38)

August 7, 2008

“Yoga is the practice of quieting the mind.” — Patanjali

Of all physical activities, unique to yoga is the rhythm of breath. The breath is the foundation of yoga. To do perfect postures without the rhythm of breath is not yoga.

To take this to a logical conclusion, a severely disabled person who sits while tidal breathing (uijayi) does yoga, whereas a flexible person in a difficult pretzel pose does not practice yoga if she holds her breath.

Many call themselves investors when actually they’re not. They think they’re investors for good reason. Like investors they buy and sell stocks and properties. However, buying a home to live in doesn’t make you an investor. It just makes you a homeowner. Trading stocks and flipping properties doesn’t make you an investor either. It makes you a trader, which is good for increasing liquidity in the markets. Active trading is a job, investing is not. Ask a stock trader about how the stock market performed today and he’s right on top of it whereas an investor may not know or care about the details of the daily trading.

Investing is not a job, but neither is it suitable for a lazy person. There is work to do, most of which is due diligence. But the fact remains an investor has more time for leisure than the average person. He doesn’t have to clock in like an employee. He can work as much or as little as he pleases on any given day. Ironically, a great deal more work on investing activities does not correlate with higher returns. Sometimes it produces worse returns if action (buy or sell) is taken for the sake of action. The benefit of investing is allowing money for work for you, not you working for money. More often than not, inaction is the smartest thing to do. People are under the distinct impression you can’t be productive if you let things be, not so for investing. Inaction is the relaxation response, as opposed to the fight-or-flight response.

“The autonomic nervous system is divided into the sympathetic system, which is often identified with the fight-or-flight response, and the parasympathetic, which is identified with what’s been called the relaxation response. When you do yoga – the deep breathing, the stretching, the movements that release muscle tension, the relaxed focus on being present in your body – you initiate a process that turns the fight-or-flight system off and the relaxation response on. That has a dramatic effect on the body. The heartbeat slows, respiration decreases, blood pressure decreases. The body seizes this chance to turn on the healing mechanisms.” — Richard Faulds