Yoga Fundamentals: Breathing Exercise

As you know, I am working on my 200 hour yoga certification in a teacher training program.  We've read excellent books, had hours of notes and discussion, seen video clips of yoga practioners from around the world, and gotten up to practice what we preach, as they say. 

Outside of my training course, I have begun a "class" with my friends to introduce them to yoga and to provide me a comfortable, non-judgmental place to develop my yoga instructions and pacing.  We've worked together for months now;  it is wonderful to get together and everyone benefits. 

Since starting to teach, I hear people say things like, "I'm not flexible enough to do yoga."  Although you might believe this to be the case, you might simply need a different type of introduction--an easing into the practice.  Instead of jumping into asana (poses), you might benefit from some more introductory-level movements, particularly for confidence moving forward.  Click here to read my post on What to Know & Do When You're New to Yoga.

Today we will examine an essential yoga exercise.  Initially, it may seem silly.  Give it a try anyway.  This is intended to get you moving your body and experiencing your movement.  Through each breath, focus on how your body feels, how the feelings change, and whether you can control your mind to focus on the task at hand.  You can do "real"* yoga before this, but if you master these and can articulate what you're experiencing, there should be no reason not to try official yoga poses.

Please, take it slow and if you have any hesitation, consult your doctor.

this picture was part of our Art + History + Yoga = A Mindful Afternoon in RVA shoot

1. Breathing exercise

- Sit, in a chair or cross-legged, with your back straight, shoulders back, crown of the head elongated.

- Gently close your eyes and breathe in and out through your nose.  Slow your breath and notice how you feel. 
Is your chest moving?  Is your belly moving?  Are your shoulders down?  Have you tightened your face or jaw?  Are your inhale and exhale the same length?

- Concentrate on your breath and really feel it.

- Move your awareness to your belly and on your next inhale, expand your belly out before moving your chest. 
It might be helpful to place one hand on your belly, one on your chest to observe which is moving.

- On the exhale, bring your bellybutton in towards your spine.  Notice whether this feels any different than how you were originally breathing.
Is your posture still erect?  Are you keeping your face and neck relaxed?

- Repeat until you have become relaxed and let go of your other thoughts.

Breath is the foundation of any yoga practice.  Implementing proper breathing will positively influence your day daily.  Whether you begin working out daily or not, this will assist your mindfulness. 

You may also want to read: Take Notice, another post regarding the importance of posture and breath for well-being.

* I say "real" here in the "officially-named" way, but, overall, any movement can be considered yoga.

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