Yoga Inspiration: Day 6, How do you breathe?

Breath in, Breath Out, Benjavisa RuangvareeDreamstime.com

Before there is movement, there is the breath. My yoga instructor Monica at 3B Yoga began our teacher training using an exercise that emphasized the different areas of our bodies that move with our breath. She explained, deep inhales expand into the stomach, the ribs, the shoulders, the lower back, and even into the neck. Full exhales allow us to move deeper into poses, and relax the body more efficiently.

I found it fascinating to watch her teach us, and see the many connections within our bodies.

Since my teacher training days, I have a hard time taking any yoga classes that don’t emphasize breathing for each posture. Since practicing and memorizing sequences throughout the last few years, I think of the breath as the anchor for any class I teach or any session I participate in.

Breathing is an essential part of our everyday life, yet we hardly think about it. I actually looked up some breath statistics, curious how often I breath throughout the day. What I learned blew my mind.

Per minute, we breath in and out 12 to 20 times.

Per day, we breathe an average of 20,000 times.

Per year, we breath almost 8.5 million times.

Isn’t wonderful to think some of the most miraculous events happen within our bodies without our even being fully aware of it?

Today, as I went through my yoga routine, I paid attention to my breathing. I noticed how cool the air was when it first came into my lungs. When I rested into certain postures like Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing dog), I liked playing with how deeply I breathed in and out, just to see what difference it makes. Overall, practice today was one of the most relaxing I’ve ever had.

Deep breathing during yoga is absolutely essential for a well-defined physical and spiritual experience. I like what health coach Ron McDiarmid said about deep breathing.

Breathing is what causes the movement of energy and what helps the body relax. An already-stiff body that tries to shape itself into different poses will only injure itself. But when we breathe deeply, we can open ourselves to feel more emotion, as well as be more in tune with what’s happening in our bodies. Breathing deeply in yoga can actually help you avoid injury. . . Circulation is increased, hormonal balance is cultivated, the organs are regenerated and the nervous system is pacified.

Anyone can choose to only do the poses, which can offer a good physical workout. However, yoga is intended to be far more. Breathing deeply allows us to access our transformative power. It opens us to yoga’s ability to rejuvenate and refine our minds and bodies. Finally, deep breathing helps us find our way to unity.

The Importance Of Breathing In Yoga“, Ron McDiarmid

If breathing without thinking 22,000 times a day keeps me alive, mindfully breathing 1000 during my yoga practice must teach me there is a higher quality of living.

Thank you for reading! See you tomorrow!

Yoga Inspiration: Day 5, How do you flow?

“One Breath” by LaureBPaintings, Available for Purchase on Etsy!

I woke up tired this morning after a second night of tossing and turning and realized I had strained a muscle in my shoulder while I slept. Mulling it over, I decided to be very gentle in my Ashtanga Yoga practice today. Given the amount of anxiety I’ve apparently been carrying lately, I wondered how this would go.

Honestly, my practice flowed better despite my injury. I think this is because I felt very in tune with my body and adjusted my movements as needed. That got me thinking about how my body flows throughout a yoga sequence. Physical exertion is not yoga’s primary purpose. Yoga is a moving meditation. I have to remind myself of this often.

What does that mean? I know for me, it takes days like today to help me slow down and follow my body through the practice. To move or flow through a yoga practice is to conduct a self-examination and accept our imperfections and physical progression without negative judgment. I’ve always loved thinking about my physical practice mirroring my spiritual progression. If I can overcome and accept physical limitations step by step, I can free myself from distractions that keep me from moving forward.

My yoga study in Provo, Utah, is called 3B yoga. (If you live in this area, feel free to check them out!) The three B’s stand for Breath, Bend, Be. When I first walked into my studio, I was impressed with the gentle and welcoming feeling there. As months passed and I finished my teacher training there, I marveled how each of us in the class had a different way of teaching and practicing yoga. The fundamentals were the same, but our personalities gave our classes a unique feeling.

Not only does each person flow differently, but how we practice yoga changes daily. None of us ever stay exactly the same. This is comforting for me because it means I can always progress, even while doing the same yoga sequence.

So its okay to change how deep we go into poses, or how long we stay in Shavasana during our practice. May we all flow in our own unique way!

Thank you for reading! See you tomorrow.