yoga, breathing, breath

There’s a predisposed image of what you have to be before trying yoga. As the myth goes, you need to be flexible and thin, be wearing fabulous Victoria’s Secret yoga pants and carrying a green juice.

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Well, the green juice and Victoria’s Secret yoga pants are optional, being thin and flexible are not necessary at all, and everyone needs to start somewhere, so why not right now? The two things that is a necessity in yoga class are breathing and an open mind. While you may have to train your brain to be a little more free, your breath is ready for the challenge.

The way you breathe can change your mood and state of mind. Breathing is so important during yoga class because it acts as a sensor to our body and our movements.

Claire Nettley, President of Yoga Australia, believes that breath is the connection between mind and body:

“It’s often said that breathing is the bridge between the mind and body so when we consciously breathe and practise, we’re able to drop into our body and move with awareness, moment to moment. We use the breath as a barometer of how we’re feeling and moving.  For example, if we push ourselves too hard in a pose we may hold our breath. While we may not recognise the limitation physically (or want to mentally), the breath tells us to pull back. It basically helps us to practise in a more conscious way.”

claire nettley, yoga australia, breathing, yoga

Changing the way we breathe during yoga can have great effects on your mind and on your body. It can help to change mood and how we feel. Breathing during yoga is so important because it has many benefits.

“We can achieve many things – how we choose to respond to things, how we behave and how we feel physically. For example, if someone triggers something in us and we’re angry, we might hold our breath and our chest might tighten. But when we consciously tune in, take a deep breath and give ourselves a moment we can respond very differently to how we might have otherwise. Certain pranayama practices can help us relax, perk up or focus. They are many and varied!” Claire says.

But before you go ahead and dive into different breaths during your sun salutation or copy hot the girl on the mat next to you breathes you need to establish what your individual breath is like.

“It really depends on the individual and what you’re trying to achieve. What works for you might not work for me,” says Claire.

“Before we go off and explore lots of wonderful Pranayama practises, it really is important to check in with our regular breath. That starts by watching the breath in any given moment. Do I breathe into my belly or chest? Do I feel tension anywhere when I breathe and if so, where? Is my breath smooth or ragged? Can we watch our breath without judgement or wanting to change anything?  We need to establish a baseline before stepping into other practices or we could create more tension in the body. Without a baseline we won’t know what’s working and what’s not. And again, that will be different for the individual.”

Images via kyrinhall.com and twitter.com