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Breath is Life

Our breath is with us wherever we go. Breathing happens naturally without us thinking about it but it is also something that we can control.

This month in my public classes I have been focusing on breath and using the breath to as the guiding engine of the practice. To put it simply, my March classes are moving pranayama (controlled breath) practices. This may sound obvious in a yoga class since breath is the essential part of any hatha based yoga practice. But even in yoga classes sometimes we get caught up in where to place the feet, having the correct alignment, and making the pose look perfect.

While alignment and foundation is important and a fundamental part of what I teach, sometimes it is good to let that all go and just drop into the breath.

Letting the breath guide our yoga practice is a way to get out of the head, think less, and feel more.

In addition, how we breathe directly impacts our central nervous system. Taking slow and deep breaths directly activates the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) which is our rest and digest side. By breathing slowly and deeply, we signal to the body that it is time to let go, to release, and to relax. Balancing our PNS with our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) which is the fight or flight side is crucial in order to maintain a balance within our body, system, and mind.

What I find most beautiful about the breath and pranayama is the ability to cultivate a deeper subtle body connection and awareness. According to yoga tradition and philosophy, our breath is our prana - our life force. And through breath and pranayama we can feel that deeper layer of self. Pranayama helps us to get quiet and still, while still feeling that subtle sense of energy flowing through the body - and the feeling of being alive.

If you are new to pranayama, the video below will guide you through a simple breathing pattern to follow and begin your breath journey.

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