You’re in the middle of a big project at work, your child needs to be picked up from school, and your cell phone is ringing. Not to mention the fact that you need to make dinner, clean the house, and maybe just maybe find a minute for yourself. Seriously, when can we get a darn […]
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Pigeon pose was actually designed to be a back bend with a ton of variations to chose from. The west decided to add the sleeping variation which can be a bit of a love/hate relationship. It’s amazing for runners, cyclists, or anyone with tight hips. But the problem is that many of us don’t understand […]
Summer is here and that means ice cream, gorgeous sunsets, and…bathing suit weather. Some of us are ready to show off our bikini-ready bodies, while others downright dread bathing suit season and just opt for the one-piece with the cover-up instead. What I notice is that the older I get, the harder it is to […]
While the time spent on your yoga mat at class several days a week certainly helps strengthen and soothe your body, it’s no match for the stress and tension you put on your body during the rest of the week. Whether you sit at a desk for hours on end, run around watching your children, […]
Savasana might look like a nap at the end of your yoga practice. But it’s actually a fully conscious pose aimed at being awake, yet completely relaxed. This makes it one of the most challenging poses in yoga because it asks you to become perfectly still and quiet in your body and mind without drifting […]
Have you ever felt like skipping right to savasana before yoga class even starts? Do you find your mind wandering during class or that you’re anxious to get to the next pose? You may need a yoga reboot. Spring is officially here, my yogi brothers and sisters. And that means new life is everywhere. It’s […]
Today we’re thinking about all our parents, educators and anyone who works with children. Have your kids ever tried to climb on your mat with you, or watched with eager eyes as you practice yoga? If you’re a teacher, do you ever find yourself in need of a way to help your little ones release […]
Our goal is to guide you throughout your yoga journey, helping you grow in strength, flexibility, cardio and mindfulness while preventing you from facing injury or discouragement. In this week’s blog we offer tips to help you avoid seven common yoga mistakes. Are you ready to get the most out of your yoga practice? Mistake […]
Maybe you’re new to yoga and worried about embarrassing yourself in a large group class. Or, perhaps you’re looking for an excursion to suit the needs of a particular group, like a bachelorette party or a circle of fitness-minded friends. Maybe you and a few friends desire a little extra attention as you continue on […]
If we breathe automatically and hardly think about it during the day, why is breath emphasized so much during yoga class? And how is it even possible to breathe incorrectly?
These questions are common among beginner yogis, and they’re worth discussing! Awareness of breath, as well as synchronizing breath to movement, is what makes yoga, yoga – rather than gymnastics or any other physical exercise.
Mechanically speaking, the act of breathing can be either automatic (an unconscious, involuntary behavior) or deliberate (a conscious, voluntary behavior). By making an automatic behavior deliberate, we begin to affect our neurological programming through a state of intentional awareness. This conscious breathing affects us biologically, emotionally and physically.
During most of the day when we’re breathing unconsciously, our breath is controlled by the medulla oblongata (the primitive part of the brain). When we switch to conscious breathing, it stimulates the cerebral cortex (the more evolved areas of the brain). It’s in that moment that the magic starts to happen! Activating the cerebral cortex has a relaxing and balancing effect on our emotions, which leads us into the next benefit of intentional breath.
When you begin to tune into your breath like this, emotional stress and random thoughts vanish. Your whole system gets a break. Your body’s energy begins flowing freely, disrupting any emotional and physical blockages and freeing your body and mind. This results in that “feel good” effect you experience after a yoga practice!
In our physical yoga practice, the breath works side-by-side with our structural alignment. Our natural tendency is to hold our breath or use stress-induced breathing (short and shallow) while holding a posture, especially in a challenging pose. This creates stress and tension in the body. That’s why you always hear yoga teachers reminding students to continue breathing intentionally during the toughest poses and sequences.
Now, you’re probably wondering exactly how you’re supposed to breathe! In yoga, there are a variety of different breathing styles. We’ll highlight one here called Ujjayi breath. When done correctly, it calms the mind, creates internal heat and gives an uplifting boost of energy. Like most aspects of yoga, it requires practice, patience and an open mind and heart. To do this type of breath, try the following sequence:
With your mouth open, try exhaling the sound “HAAAAH” – similar to the sound you make when you’re trying to fog up a mirror. Get comfortable with this sound to get the hang of the practice.
Close your mouth and attempt a similar sound, feeling the outflow of air through your nasal passages. If you’re doing this correctly, you should sound like waves in the ocean (or Darth Vader!).
Generally, you should incorporate a positive resolve or mantra into every yoga session. This can be a single word or phrase that serves as a goal for your practice. This mantra should be integrated into your breathing process. When you inhale, gather up the stress or worries in your mind; when you exhale, imagine that stress flowing out of your entire body.
We’re willing to bet you had no idea how important – and complex – your breath is! What seems like an automatic process is actually critical to mindfulness, stress removal and energy creation.
If you’re ready to practice the art of yogic breathing, come join us for a hot yoga class! And don’t forget to incorporate conscious breath into your daily life. When you’re feeling stressed or tired at work, school or home, spend two minutes focusing on deep inhales and exhales. You’ll be surprised how great you’ll feel after!
“A yogi measures the span of life by the number of breaths, not by the number of years.” -Swami Sivananda