A Deep Breath…

…can do a body good.

I am an avid yogi: I do a little 15 minute routine every morning to get my day started and every evening to wind my day down. I have a minor…ok…it’s a mondo obsession! But what can I say?! Ever since I started doing yoga, I have been able to understand my body and heal it after a rough day of biking up hill, or a long run, or even a mentally stressful event.

However, I have a confession to make.

I have many an issue with the ever-so-important and necessary component of not only yoga, but of life: Breathing.

How it's Done.
^How it’s Done.

As I mentioned, yoga has been a consistent part of my life, but I have only just recently decided to finally introduce Pilates into my life. And I believe that in doing so I brought a new and greater sense of breathing into my routines! Now, I cannot tell you why Pilates has brought me to bettering my breathing abilities, but it has! Maybe it has something to do with the more vigorous motions (I find I can perform them better and “push” my body further when I breathe in sequence) or mayhaps it’s just my mind telling my body “Hey! It’s time to wake up and breathe in the Om!” Either way, it brought me to do some research on why breathing is as important as it is when it comes to mastering a zen Yoga pose or lengthening one’s muscles with Pilates.

Here’s what I found.

Firstthere are differences in the methods of breathing utilized in the two routines; Yogis prefer to take their breath to a deeper level. This practice, called Ujjayi (which means Victorious!) Breathing, is where one breathes in and out through their nose. Long and smooth, deep breaths in and deep breaths out, energizing and yet calming. 
Ommmm...

Ommmm…

 

Pilates aficionados focus more on their core and positioning while breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. Breath is of course quite important, and is encouraged by good instructors, however, it is not something that they will focus on. Yoga instructors may dedicate an entire class to the skill of breathing, otherwise known as Pranayama. 
DSC_7585
Second; the importance of teaching oneself how to breathe properly is a matter of health! “A breath-holder usually feels a “catch” and may actually struggle to initiate the exhalation after a tough pose. You can reduce the holding by consciously relaxing your abdomen just as an inhalation ends” (YogaJournal.com – a clear favorite source of mine!).
Experiencing these “catches” can severely alter how deeply your body will not only allow you to go into a pose, but also how deeply you are able to meditate and free your mind from the clutter and hub bub that we all collect throughout our day.

Which brings me to Thirdly; MEDITATION! This is the aspect of Yoga that does not exist as greatly in Pilates, but is extremely potent in Yoga. One’s Breath is One’s Ticket. Keep that in mind…when you stop breathing, or you focus too much on the zillion other thoughts racing through your brain, you are far more likely to fall victim to a “reward-less” Yoga session. **To be honest, I find that I get a better burn and stretch in my Pilates routine when I breath properly too, so I would even go so far as to say that Pilates practicioners may have a less rewarding session too.

Deeply in Yoga.

So there you have it! My personal breathing discovery! A difficult and roller-coaster like journey, not unlike the journey of life.

How do you keep the focus on your breathing? Any go-to methods for when-in-doubt out there??

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One thought on “A Deep Breath…

  1. Pingback: A Deep Breath… | Curious Shrader

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