When was the last time you took a deep breath in?
I’m talking about a chest expanding, deep into your belly kind of breath that makes your hands tingle. The act of breathing is so autonomous that you probably didn’t even notice it until just now.
Having taught yoga for a few years, I tend to see a trend in most yogis with regards to their breathing.
Staying in a pose for longer than a few breaths can be quite uncomfortable for some, which leads to the focus being taken away from what matters most:
Oxygen and blood flow
In turn, we are hindering some of the main benefits of yoga.
When I teach a class, I regularly try to bring each person’s focus back to their breath. With music playing and different essential oils filling the room, it’s easy to forget about your breath when holding a pose for longer than 10 seconds.
Conscious breathing is a big part of yoga because it allows us to channel the energy inside and focus it on the task at hand. It brings us to the present, something that isn’t practiced nearly enough in our busy lives filled with constant stimulus.
Breathing into your entire body
Let’s take a moment to look at injuries and trauma.
When an injury occurs, your body has a normal physiological response to help heal it. Scar tissue is the final product, but causes the tissue around the injury site to become less elastic in order to protect the area from further damage.
Blood and oxygen flow to these sites can be hindered because of this scar tissue buildup.
To manipulate this lack of oxygen and nutrients that is present in and around the injury site, you can focus on breathing in deeply enough to increase the stretch felt at the site.
Continuous deep breathing during yoga can cause a physiological response that can be uncomfortable for some people. You should listen to your body at all times and stop if you get dizzy, lightheaded or feel like you might pass out. This type of deep breathing is meant to be done with seated or supine poses and should never be attempted when standing or balancing.
How to breath new life into your practice
The next time you find yourself in a difficult pose that you’re having trouble with, come back to your breath and really focus on making your inhalations and exhalations as deep and drawn out as possible.
Try to breath into where you feel the discomfort and see if the stretch increases. Yoga is all about finding space in each pose, but that space needs to be found consciously and with purpose.
Don’t just sit there in pigeon pose thinking about what you’re going to have for breakfast tomorrow morning. Focus on breathing into your hips to really feel where the stretch is happening.
Although this is a simple technique that pretty much anyone can try, you should always listen to your body when implementing any new exercise or yoga practice.
If something doesn’t feel right or causes extreme pain, then you should stop doing it.
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