Fancy gear and a grueling training regimen can certainly improve your game, race times, or general fitness. But the key to becoming a better athlete may lie in something simpler: breathing. According to former triathlete Ed Harrold, CEO and transformative coach at the Aspen-based Performance Breathing Institute, respiration patterns dictate physical, mental, and emotional reactions to the brain. These responses play a large role in our abilities to manage stress, improve athletic performance, and maintain better lifestyle habits.

Harrold bases his performance breathing method on pranayama (conscious breathing) techniques, which focus on slowing nasal breathing to condition and strengthen respiratory muscles. This, in turn, can lower your heart rate and burn fat stores. He teaches the techniques to everyone from children to endurance athletes, such as elite pro cyclist (and Aspen resident) Tejay van Garderen. “The breath is the great edge to the future of sports,” Harrold says. “It’s a secret weapon—for those who know its secrets.”