When teaching yoga I am becoming more and more concerned with the quality of breath of my class participants. Yoga offers us a great opportunity to explore the quality of the breath and our breathing patterns.
We should be able to breath fully and smoothly when practicing yoga. The breath should be our guide, if you catch yourself holding your breath or having quick shallow breath it is probably a sign that you have gone too far into a stretch or the practice is too intense for you. At the end of the practice you might feel worn out and tired, but not necessarily relaxed. Another problem might be that instead of creating a healthy breathing pattern you are encouraging a faulty pattern, creating tension and stress in the body.
When our breath is free and we are connected to it we are able to listen to the needs of the body, we know when we need a break and we learn to accept our weak points, by observing when the breath changes it patterns. Deep breathing provides a gentle massage to the internal organs and the spinal vertebrae, helping nutrients get to the intervertebral discs and aiding in the flow of cerebrospinal fluid; it oxygenates the blood which in turn nourishes the cells of the body and helps to eliminate toxins from the body. Deep breathing promotes relaxation and activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
When we start each yoga practice I suggest we ask ourselves, why am I here? What am I doing this for? Do I need to push my body into places it is not yet ready? To prove something to myself and the others in the room? Or is my main reason to feel good and relaxed, to protect the body from harm and injury?
Listening to the breath will connect you with your body, help you to understand the roots and causes of mental and physical problems, it will help you to deepen into your yoga practice and your life. It will be of great value in many situations of your everyday life.
In our next post Ali will explain how different breathing patterns affect every aspect of our life!
A tip for you from the amazing “Breathing Boook” writen by Donna Farhi:
*Clothes that pinch the waist Clothes that are flowing and less structured in design and fabrics that expand are breather friendly.
*Clothes that are too small Nothing looks worse than a belly struggling to free itself over a belt, a blouse gaping open, or seams stretched apart by burgeon flesh. Man and women of all sizes look their best in clothes that fit them.
*Belts If you must wear a belt make sure it is not notched too tight. If a belt is too narrow it will pinch you, if it is too wide it will press both your belly and diaphragm when you sit down.
*Neck ties Dress codes often require these uncomfortable nooses. If you must wear one, tie it loosely enough that you are not holding tension in your throat.
*High heels Throw you off your center of balance, causing the back muscles and thus your breathing muscles to tighten.
*Bras If it leaves red marks it’s too tight.