Making a connection to your breath in your Yoga practice can be transformative. All to often we hold, stain or ignore the breath which can create tension in our bodies and minds. Exactly the opposite result of what we want from our Yoga class! Here are some top tips to encourage more breath and awareness during your Yoga practice.
Yoga is a practice of awareness.
Next time you attend a class or practice yourself, take a moment, mid flow to become aware of your breath. Ask yourself, 'Am I breathing?' 'How am I breathing?' Then....allow yourself to breathe!
You should be able to breathe at all times.
Notice if your breath becomes very shallow or stained. If you are having difficulty breathing it could be a sign you should back off a little on the intensity of the pose.
In Yoga we generally in inhale and exhale through the nose.
It is thought to be the best way to keep energy within the body. There maybe occasions we exhale through the mouth in order to give a feeling of release for a short period of time.
Surround your movement with breath.
The breath can initiate the movement. Coordinating the physical movement with breath creates flow and ease in our body. Timing your breath with the movement can be challenging, especially in a class with inhale/exhale cues from the Yoga instructor. Within reason, we would say always follow the timing of your own body and breath. It would be practically impossible for all the people in a Yoga class to be breathing at the same time for the duration of the class. The Yoga instructors cues are just meant as a guide and reminder.
Do we inhale or exhale in this movement/pose?
Forward bending postures are linked with the exhalation, a feeling of release, surrender and closing. Backward bending postures are linked with the inhalation, a feeling a wakening, joy and opening. Twists are normally practiced with an exhalation as we turn (as there is less space in the lungs as we twist) and an inhalation to return. This is a general way the breath is used to compliment a physical Yoga practice and why a Yoga instructor would be giving certain cues. The reasons why can be elaborated on and it is a massive subject, with some reasons why the above may vary too.
In a Yoga class, there maybe hundreds of inhale/exhale cues, strange new breathing techniques, other people breathing loudly around you and some people barely breathing at all! When in doubt the best thing to do is just breathe normally :)
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Lots of love
Hana and Aya xxx