The breath is the where the magic is found in yoga. It deeply affects our physical and mental state. Conscious breathing triggers the parasympathetic nervous system through the cerebral cortex (rest & restore), increases lung capacity, builds circulation, aids digestion, release emotional and physical tension, and increase overall well-being. When we link the breath with the movement in our practice it slows the breath down – bringing more oxygen to our whole system and establishes a deep and constant breath.
COME BACK TO THE BREATH
Bringing our attention consciously to the breath in our practice is a challenge that continues as long as the practice itself. To the onlooker, a yogi flowing through their sequence may seem very relaxed and calm, but there is much unfolding on the mat. The complexity of alignment in each asana, the controlled and safe transitions, maintaining a meditative state of mind, and most importantly, remembering to breath! It’s no surprise that you might find yourself holding your breath while you are concentration on your flow, or during a challenging asana. Simply remembering to come back to the breath during your practice, and checking in with how you are breathing, will help to build your concentration, and face those challenging asana.
THE WAVE OF THE BREATH
The breath moves through us like a wave. On an inhale the belly and ribs expand as the diaphragm contracts down, and on an exhale the belly and ribs contract as the diaphragm expands up.
Before you try the sequence above, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Place your hands on you belly and take a few comfortable breaths – following the ebb and flow of the air. When you are going through the asana let your breath initiate each transition. Keep returning to the breath during your practice If you find you are loosing the connection between the breath with the movement, go back to the simple warm up flow sequences and keep your practice simple. As you pause in each asana, use the breath to melt aways any tension you might encounter. For more information on using the breath to pause click on this link.
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Ruth Delahunty Yogaru