The Breath

In a Vinyasa class, and most yoga classes, the breath is the guiding foundation that connects the movements. What's interesting is how difficult that can be.  Especially when something is new to us that we're learning, and then trying to add our focus and concentration to the breath on top of everything....it can be a little overwhelming.  Every time you catch yourself not breathing, it's okay to temporarily stop what you're doing, find your breath again, and continue on.  

An analogy I use to talk about breathing is looking at how babies breathe.  They breathe all the way down into their bellies...they're using the full capacity of their lungs.  And something happens as we mature into adults: our breath becomes very shallow.  We seem to only breathe into our chests, not using our full lung capacity.  

Lying on your back is a great way to find that belly breathing again.  Putting one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest, as you inhale, your belly and hand will rise up toward the ceiling.  As you continue to inhale, next you'll feel the rising in your chest.  And then as you exhale, your chest and hand will fall back towards your spine and the floor, and then your belly will follow slowly and gently contracting down towards the ground.  

These breathing exercises are the foundation of yoga.  If you showed up to one of my classes and all you did was sit or lie down in the corner of the room and focus on your breath for an hour...to me, that's yoga.  

Take the time to tap into your breath throughout the day, whether or not you're doing yoga.  It's amazing how important and vital the breath is to our overall wellbeing, but how automatic and how little we pay attention to it.

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Reader Comments (3)

It really is amazing how much difference paying attention to breathing makes. I like the belly breathing exercise idea, as simple as breathing is, sometimes it's difficult to know if I'm really breathing into my belly, so putting the hand on the belly and watching it go up and down is a good tip.

I've done a lot of the sitting and meditating yoga (raja yoga). Now I'm looking for some inspiration to get going on the body movement/posture side of yoga, and will be coming back to your blog for that inspiration! :)

April 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRicardo

Good to hear what will help you in my future posts Ricardo! When inspiration strikes, I'll be sure to include some tips that I've found helpful when it comes to breathing during the more postural yoga. Fortunately, you have your yogi mom to help you along the journey too. All the best.

April 10, 2012 | Registered CommenterJill White Yoga

I well recall taking my reluctant daughter Jill & friend Suzy to a yoga class when they were in about the 7th or 8th grade. Little did I imagine it would become Jill's pathway in life. Little did I also realize then how important the breath is to the practice of yoga. Yes, I used breath control during the Lamaze birthings of our children...& still use it today when I stub my toe & strive to rise beyond the pain. When I can't fall asleep at night, I rely on breathing deeply to concentrate & relax every muscle in my body. I even use a simple breathing technique that Jill taught me when I'm driving in frustrating freeway traffic. I still struggle to find that lovely rhythm & envy it when I see it come so naturally to Jill, but I finally realize how vital it is to yoga. Thanks, Jilly!

May 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJan Miller White

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