A few years ago, an extremely fit male professional athlete came to me after several classes and said, “I don’t get it. This is the hardest thing I have ever done. I am sitting down in class, and can’t catch my breath. The people around me aren’t in very good shape but they seem to be doing fine. Next to me, this lady in her 70’s is going strong, but I am exhausted. What is it?”
This is so common. It sounds simple…all we have to do is breathe. However, our natural tendency is to hold our breath or take short, shallow breathes which creates stress in the body. Instead, we need to be conscious of our breath. Breathing in and out through the nose creates a calm and relaxed condition in the body and mind. Our minds are often racing and the simple technique of listening to the breath will quiet the mind and bring a relaxation response to the body. When the muscles are relaxed, they will stretch more easily. Furthermore, finding the balance between the body, mind and breath creates the atmosphere for a deeper yoga practice. We practice proper breathing and asana to prepare ourselves for everything we want to do in life. The breath, or prana, is our life force and also the foundation of every moment we are alive.
Next time you are faced with a challenge in or out of the yoga room, stop and breathe. Quiet your mind. And then… make your next move!