Yoga is so much more than “stretching”. In fact, most yoga teachers really do not care for the word, “stretch” as part of the definition, or description of a yoga practice. Truth is, a large part of yoga, is how you breathe.
From that first inhale at birth, to our last exhale – as we transition, breathing is life itself. Some quick facts and stats include us humans breathing between 17,000 and 23,000 breaths every single day. About 2k gallons/7,570 liters of oxygen a day are used with all those inhalations and exhalations. (Sourced from Google) Our Respiratory System is comprised of our nose, pharynx, larynx, trachea, lungs, and diaphragm.(major organs) How we breathe can prepare us for a dangerous situation, activating our sympathetic nervous system, or provide calm, and more focus via our parasympathetic nervous system. Most days, we should all opt for the latter, to maintain homeostasis, or a healthy “baseline” within our minds and bodies.
Focusing on our breathing allows us to be in the present moment, to minimize the multitude of thoughts that may be running through our minds all at once – and concentrate just on the task at hand. Same holds true in our yoga practice. In fact, that may be our yoga practice. When you are faced with a challenging situation in life, OR a challenging pose in yoga – your best option is to focus on your breathing. In both cases it allows for the mind and the body, (plus the breathing) to connect and weave more harmoniously until we can move safely (hopefully) out of the situation at hand, OR out of the yoga pose, to move onto the next.
At some point in your life, you may have heard something like, “slowly start to count backwards from ten before you decide/react/speak.”, or, “sleep on it, before making a final decision.” In these cases, you are literally allowing your mind to minimize all those thoughts at once before moving forward – all by focusing on the breath. During a yoga practice, poses are generally held for three to five complete breaths. Yoga teachers will encourage students to, “breathe deeper” within a pose, to allow the body to move, expand, adjust, settle, and connect with the mind. Blood and oxygen will begin to circulate more effectively within the body, allowing for better digestion and a more restful sleep. After a yoga practice, a student may feel a general easiness, and more grounded, or balanced, due to the movement of the body and utilizing the breath in a more focused way.
That same feeling can also be achieved by taking a bit of time each day, (one to two minutes will get you on your way.), to “train” yourself to bring awareness to your breathing.Consider this exercise: Sit comfortably, (in a chair with both feet on the floor), on the edge of your bed/sofa, or on the floor. Sit up tall through your back and spine, and “soften” your gaze, or close your eyes. Palms will rest on the top of your thighs. Bring awareness to your breathing as you inhale and exhale through your nose. When you are ready – take a deep inhalation through the nose and count UP to the number “4”… Pause for a moment….. Exhale out through the nose, as you count DOWN to the number “4”. Continue this for a few rounds. When you are ready, slowly start to open your eyes. Imagine that. All those benefits for your body and mind that are naturally “built” within us. Congratulations! You are on your way to a healthier lifestyle. Breathe better yogis. xo
Text: MICHELEYOGA To: 22828 for your chance to participate in our next, complimentary “POPup” class. – “Better Breathing 101”
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