Breathe is such an important aspect of yoga. Kula instructor Haydn answers some of the most frequently asked questions regarding breath and our practice, as well as how to use breathe to deepen and connect.
Q: What does vinyasa mean?
A: Vinyasa means breath with movement. When we guide the body through a vinyasa flow, the breath and alignment are the most important things to consider. Our inhales are for lifting type movements and our exhales are for lowering. For example, at the beginning of a vinyasa flow we inhale to lift the hands above the head and exhale to lower the upper body down towards the ground. The same pattern is followed the whole way through our vinyasa flow from the lowering of Chaturanga (low plank) on exhale to the lift of Upward Facing Dog on inhale.
Q: How do I breathe during static holds or standing poses that aren’t flowing?
A: What we most definitely should not do is hold the breath. Rather we should use our breath as a guide. If the breath feels strong and steady, perhaps there is an opportunity to take the pose even deeper or to an amplified variation. If the breath feels short and sharp, perhaps you should consider modifying the pose so that you can continue to breathe.
Q: What about standing balances or arm balances? Aren’t these easier if you hold your breath?
A: When we first achieve a new pose that we have been working on, often we will hold our breath as excitement takes over and literally takes our breath away. However if we were to want to learn to hold these poses for longer periods of time or even learn to advance the asana (pose) we must first come back to the breath. Again, use it as your guide; if you can breathe well and continue to balance maybe there is a new variation to be explored.
Q: When we come to Savasana should we still focus on our breath?
A: This can depend on the intention of the Savanasa, however the idea of Savasana is to lay in stillness (apart from the breath) and allow the body to start to rest and restore. If the Savanasa is un-guided, a focus on the breath can be a great way to slow down the mind and give it a chance to relax and enjoy some stillness along with the body.
Breathing is powerful. It gives us life. If we learn to tap into its power, we might just find a new level for our practice.
About the author: Haydn has always had extremely active lifestyle. He comes from a background in gymnastics and spent 10 years as a professional dancer and acrobat touring all over the world. Haydn has always practiced yoga as a way to keep his body in tip top shape and injury free. Haydn completed his 200 hour Power Yoga Teacher training and is extremely honoured to be part of the team at Kula.