Tag Archives: Breathing

Why Yoga?

{VIRIN}People often ask me why I “do” yoga.  This is usually followed by: jokes about guys doing yoga, questions about levitation, and references to contortion.  Once the laughter settles, I’ll answer in one of several ways.  If the question  comes from a guy or group of guys who are joking about “guys doing yoga,”  I say something about how horrible it is to be the only guy in a room full of women.  That usually gets their attention.  If the question comes from an overly-muscled person who questions the “manliness” of yoga, I usually respond in the form of an asana.  Usually eka pada koundinyasana that transitions into a variation of Mayurasana.

When the question comes from someone who really wants to know “why I do yoga,” I will sit down and tell them about my yoga journey.

Getting Comfortable To Breathe

-1You’re upset, your mind is churning, and it seems to be a constant state. People are telling you to “Find your breath,” or “Let go of the emotions.” But you’re really not sure what they mean.  But you take their suggestion and try some breathing exercises that range from slow breathes in, with an equally slow exhale. You might even fiddle with your nostrils with your fingers while trying to breathe in one and out the other, even though you have the cold from hell and you think the boogers from Mars are going to fly out in a huge green mass. But worse is when someone suggests you meditate, and all you can think of when you hear an Om is “How long do I have to do this for?”url

Then there’s the physical aspect. You haven’t sat on the floor since you were a kid.  Your thighs feel like they’re on fire, your hip joints are stretching, and your butt is falling sleep. Your neck starts to ache, and what’s with your shoulders?  Up or down?  And what is that loud, annoying ventilator sound that the person next to you is making?  If you’d wanted to listen to a vacuum cleaner, you would have stayed home. Maybe this breathing stuff –this pranayam isn’t for you. You don’t understand why it’s supposed to help,  and you really can’t take one more 1-2-3-4-5 hold 5-4-3-2-1.  Isn’t there a way to keep it simple?

Yoga Props
Use bolsters, pillows, blocks or blankets.

Sure there is! The teacher may be sitting cross-legged, but a  good one knows that everyone’s body does things differently. If your legs don’t cross, by all means, grab 2 blocks, or a blanket and put them under your knees. Sit on blanket or a bolster, lean against the wall, lie down. If there’s a chair nearby, use that. Experiment at home with rolled up towels, a pillow, or yoga blocks.

Then do yourself a favor and get to class 20 minutes early. Set yourself up with whatever you need.  Find a spot near the wall so you can lean back on it. Get comfortable and experience the restorative benefits of breath.

Watch Rodney Yee go over getting comfortable, and telling you the rudiments of breath.

Balance: Fighting Zombies

I was reading Will Gadd’s most excellent blog, where he imparts some wisdom found in his 45 years. He writes about eating right and most of all about moving and breathing. Carving out that time everyday to be physically active. Maybe it’s walking the dogs, running, doing yoga, dancing – it’s up to you. But it’s important to not confuse busyness, or being online with movement and breath.  The very active Gadd uses the example of seeing “a super fat lady” walking the hills early in the morning. She’s his hero because she’s committed to reshape her mornings and walk everyday.

I’m one of those people who annoys my kids because I’ll talk to anyone. It’s my countrified upbringing: I can’t help it. When I see someone super out of shape walking, I’ve been known to roll down my window, shoot a thumbs up out the window and say, “Keep Going! You’re doing great!”  Because what I see is someone who got to a point where they said, “No more. I’ve abused and neglected myself long enough.” And now they walk, breathe, to find a new take on life.

The truth: you just never get those hours back where you blasted someone in Disqus comments for 2  hours. We never have those hours back when we answer emails that could wait, played the latest online game devoted to collecting things that aren’t real. Or the time we went to dinner with our kids and were more interested in the virtual conversation of texting.  Everyone has to get out of this rut and move and breathe. Besides, as we get older, our waistline slips down around our freakin’ hips. At some point people should start seeing that burger and fries, that big bag of salty chips, that extra stuffed and fried burrito as an enemy deserving to be blown to bits with high caliber rounds. Not as something to passively apply to thighs, hips, and arteries, as too many do.

You never have that time back, those lost chances to breathe when you fell pray to instantaneous communications. One of the big downfalls of all of this virtual non-face-to-face chatter is the perception that all of it matters. It doesn’t.

Or that it’s more important that you. It isn’t.

So we have to be ruthless when it comes to taking that 30, 45, or 60 minutes to ourselves, because it’s a struggle for all of us to find balance. Especially if you get yelled out by someone who has had a crappy day, and in turn decides to make yours crappy too. Don’t get involved in their power struggle, their martinet ways because it’s more about them than it is about you. Be a zombie slayer: push them off, and those time snakes away, (do the double tap). Find those precious minutes to suck in fresh air, move and find a rhythm until you’re groovin.’

Whether it’s yoga, bicycling, walking, playing with your dogs, or walking around the backyard at midnight in the heat of the summer watering the garden. Grab that chance to disconnect from the noise and chaos accosting you to move and breathe. Believe it or not, as you do, you’ll find the stillness and peace you’ve been craving.

Watch Will Gadd move and breathe.

Breathing techniques

One of the most important factors when it comes to handling stress is handling ones breath. Not to mention breath control is one of the biggest parts of yoga, when an individual can learn to manage their breath, it can make an enormous impact on how one feels.

Becoming aware of your breath and slowing it down can help and make a difference within seconds.  Here is a good link to an article on diaphragmatic breathing, or “belly breathing”.

Once you have that part down and if you would like to try something more, you can attempt this breathing exercise from Steve at PropelLife.com.