Sometimes opportunities come knocking that you can’t say no to and one of those came up for me the other week. I was asked to come along to the Shine From Within – Nourish workshop with a group of 12 beautiful teens to share the practice of yoga with them.
Shine From Within, founded by Amanda Rootsey runs a range of beautiful workshops that give young women the tools to literally shine from within. The Nourish workshop aims to introduce practices to help develop self-worth and teach these gorgeous teens how to truly nourish your body from a place of love (rather than dieting).
So in keeping with the Nourish theme I wanted to share the most important aspect of yoga, the part that binds our movement with our mind and soul, the one important tool that we take for granted in our life and the one that most importantly nourishes our bodies with the nutrients that we need to not only live our best life, but is a necessity to survive – our breath.
For most of us it’s a given that we breathe each day, in fact we take thousands of breaths each day and often don’t take any time to acknowledge the beauty and the natural simplicity of our body’s ability to just breathe. I’m sure I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again but our breath is our life force and it is important to understand just how it functions and to be conscious of how our body uses that gorgeous fresh air that we breathe in.
So here are a couple of my quick tips and tricks for getting conscious about your breath and using it to nourish your body, take them with you everywhere you go, and use them in any situation and I’d love to hear how they work or don’t work for you.
1. Breathe through your nose, it helps to filter the oxygen that you are bringing into your body and regulates the temperature so that it can be properly absorbed into your lungs and blood stream;
2. Stop for at least 10 minutes each day and extend your breath to count to 3 or 4 for each inhale and exhale. I always start with at the beginning of my yoga classes and practice to help centre the mind and the body preparing for the class ahead, and if I can lengthen my breath any further I will. This also helps to naturally expand your lungs, filtering more oxygen into your body than you would in your normal breathing pattern and helps to calm and rejuvenate your nervous system;
3. Do you ever feel light headed? Or have one of those moments where something happens and your heart stops? I have them, more often than I’d like, and I always notice that it may not necessarily be what’s happening around me that has caused this breathlessness, it’s the fact that I’ve actually stopped breathing. Be conscious of that feeling, and take a deep breath, you will feel instantly better for it;
4. Use your exhale to help relaxation. Our body has two main operating nervous systems, the parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation) and the sympathetic nervous system (prepares for energy). To do this all you simply need to do is exhale for a longer count than your inhale. Use it when you are feeling stressed, anxious or before bed to help you sleep better. Make sure to count and focus on each inhale and exhale and really draw out your breath to relax your body and mind; and
5. Feeling tired? And it’s only the beginning of a big day ahead? Why not try alternate nostril breathing, blocking one nostril at a time to breathe in and out in a pattern will help balance your body and mind and will re-energise you for the rest of the day (or evening).
So what are you waiting for? Get nourishing, fuel your body with the RIGHT stuff! Breathe like your life depends on it.
This blog post originally appeared at KatHardingYoga.com