Monday, May 21, 2012

The Breath

How many times during a day do you notice yourself holding your breath? It is shocking to me how often I need to remind myself to take a deep breath, and I am a yoga instructor!! My mind is abuzz with planning and thinking. I can so easily find myself lost in some other time and place either worrying about the future or regretting the past. So I remind myself to return. The breath is the bridge from the mind to the body. This is how the mind/body connection happens. You may notice that when you focus on your breathing that your mind begins to clear of all the thoughts that clutter it, and brings your mental focus into the present moment...which is happening in your body. 

 There are several different ways we can explore breathing:

1. Connecting the breath to the YOGA. Sun Salutes are a great way to practice using mindful breathing. I heard a great guideline for breathing one time that goes: Inhale, exhale, and continue. In yoga, the inhalation happens when we expand the body, and the exhale occurs when we contract. So a forward bend would be an exhalation, and an inhale would be an arch or anything where the body is opening. The other thing to keep in mind is that in yoga, it is preferred to breathe in and out of the nose with a relaxed jaw and slight constriction of the throat. It should make a hollow sound. If you don’t get this at first, don’t be concerned. The breath should be a full breath, starting with filling your belly, then your chest and your nose.

2. MEDITATION is simply breathing mindfully. So we can even imagine that our yoga practice is a moving meditation. Simply notice your breath. Even 2-5 minutes of daily mindful breathing will make space for more miracles in your life, and will allow you to reset yourself each day. I am not a world class meditator, but I do try to focus on my breath for a short period of time on a daily basis. It allows me to train my thoughts and to become much more present in my everyday life, which makes me far more effective and better able to clearly communicate with others.

3. BREATHING TECHNIQUES are good ways to forge lines of communication between the spirit and the mind. In yoga there are several different breathing techniques that can be used. The body is such an amazing tool, and breath is a primary aspect of that. Breath is our body’s natural heating and coolant system. When you need to warm up, a closed mouth can keep the heat inside. Think of the belly as a furnace, and the breathing is fanning that fire. When you need to cool down try opening the mouth on the exhale. Alternate Nostril Breathing and Breath of Fire are two different forms of yogic breathing techniques that can help you. Yogis also call these techniques Pranayama.

In fact, your life force energy (or Prana) is carried through the body on the vehicle of the breath. Each moment is an opportunity to come present to this essential human need that you are constantly fulfilling. The more awareness you bring to this action, the more vibrant and alive every moment will feel. Just Breathe.


  1. Please tell me what music plays in the background?

  2. This music is by Justin Stanley, an amazing musician and record producer who has toured with Beck and is married to Nikka Costa...and much more! It's available on the Yogalosophy DVD,