Better Breathing Through Yoga

The very source of our existence flows ever so gracefully through our bodies to keep our hearts pumping and our brains alive. It’s unseeable, untouchable but incredibly vital. The power behind our working bodies is breath; the inhalation and exhalation of air through our lungs every minute of every day. Yet, it’s something that we hardly pay attention to.

Ask yourself this question: do I have a tendency to take short, shallow breaths?  Most of us are entrenched in our busy schedules, too tense and fixed both mentally and physically to notice how our breathing is affecting us. Challenge yourself to pay attention to the kind of rhythm your breathing takes.

Here’s how yoga can bring awareness to your breath and help you focus on slower, deeper breathing for your health.

 Better Breathing Through Yoga

One of the many benefits of committing to a yoga practice, is that it gives you the opportunity to really focus on your breathing for a concise period of time during the day. If you find yourself sitting for hours on end at a computer, or if your muscles are constantly under tension, it can affect the depth of your breath. Yoga creates the perfect environment to relax and concentrate on just that.

Breath Awareness

In class, yoga instructors continuously emphasize the importance of conscious breathing. It is a foundational component of any yoga practice which utilizes our ability to connect to our inner energies.

Allow yourself to rid your mind of any distractions and just be present. Being able to connect to your breath is one of the initial ways to make yourself reside in the present. Furthermore, this is why breath awareness in yoga serves as its own type of meditation, because it calms the body down and heightens consciousness. Deep breathing with your full body allows you to open energy channels which increases mental clarity and benefits the body’s overall emotional state.

 Paths of Subtle Energies

Breath offers a way to tap into our body’s inner energies. Our physical body is home to over 72,000 channels, known as nadis, where energy is able to flow. Nadi is a Sanskrit word meaning “channel” or “flow” and refers to energy channels within the body. When these nadis are flowing freely, we remain vital and healthy. When they become weak or congested, our bodies struggle both mentally and physically. The three nadis that are the most important in yoga are Ida, Pingala and Sushumna.

Ida Nadi: This channel starts at the Muladhara chakra, or the root chakra located at the base of the spine and takes its path through the chakras until it reaches its end in the left nostril. This channel corresponds to the moon energy and creates a calming effect on the body.

Pingala Nadi: This nadi begins at the Muladhara chakra as well, but the difference is that its course through the chakras ends in the right nostril. The Pingala nadi is known for its relation to the sun energy and its heating effect.

Sushumna Nadi: Lastly, this nadi takes a path down the central axis of the body through the spinal cord. It serves as the predominant nadi in relation to the astral or emotional body. It takes the same course that the Kundalini energy takes relating to balance, stillness of mind and ultimately leads to enlightenment.

Take time in your yoga practice to bring awareness to these nadis. If you pause between poses, you will start to notice which nadi is dominating your breath. Pay attention to your state of mind, and you’ll find which nadi is more present. If you feel agitated and energetic, you’re activating the pingala nadi, if you feel calm and relaxed, you’re activating the ida nadi, and if you have clarity of mind, you’re activating the sushumna nadi.

Benefits of Deep Breathing

Deep breathing offers multiple health benefits as well. Your body will thank you for it. Here are some added benefits.

Muscle relaxation

Improved oxygen delivery

Lower blood pressure

Release of endorphins

Detoxification

When you combine breath with physical movement, the entire body and mind can connect and settle into complete calmness. Understanding how to consciously breathe will contribute to a developed state of awareness, a deeper yoga practice and overall improvements to your health.

Focus on your breathing in Paige’s Gentle Restorative & Yin class on Thursdays at 10am or Tanya’s Gentle Restorative & Yin class on Wednesdays at 2:30pm. For a full list of classes, view our class schedule here.

Be Comfortable with Your Yoga Practice

If you’ve never tried yoga before, starting out can be intimidating and even a little scary. Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’m too busy. My back bothers me. I’m not flexible enough for yoga. I don’t even know where to begin?” These are all common reasons we hear for why some hesitate to try yoga. But most of the time, these factors are just the result of feeling nervous to start. We’ve developed a class to melt those nerves away! Our Intro to Yoga class will help you become comfortable with the basics of yoga before stepping into the Studio for your first class, so you can feel right at home with your practice.

Intro to Yoga is taught by instructors, Ashley Cloutier and Richard Fabio. They bring warmth, friendliness and comfortability into the classroom along with their teaching experience and knowledge of yoga. In addition, Richard leads the coaching and mentorship program to provide one-on-one support for those looking to explore a yoga practice and find classes and styles to fit their individual needs.

What to Expect

When you attend Intro to Yoga, you’ll learn all about the fundamentals, such as where to put your shoes before you step into class and where to find a mat. You’ll learn about the major styles of yoga, breathing techniques and how to use props to assist your practice. We want you to be educated about yoga so that when you attend your first class, you feel as comfortable as possible.

After class, you’ll have the opportunity to work directly with Intro to Yoga instructor, Richard Fabio to find classes that meet your needs to completely customize your yoga experience. As always, our goal is to help you create a regular, consistent practice so that you feel healthy, strong and enjoy being a part of the yoga community.

Benefits of Yoga

A consistent yoga practice will relax your mind, strengthen your body and nourish your soul. The best part about yoga, is that it’s beneficial for anybody regardless of age.

Better Bone Health: Yoga postures require that you lift your own weight, strengthening both your muscles and bones.

Immunity Boost: In yoga, you’ll contract and stretch muscles, shift organs, and come in and out of yoga postures, which will increase the drainage of lymph (a fluid rich in immune cells). This supports the lymphatic system in fighting infection, destroys cancerous cells and disposes of toxic waste in your body.

Relaxes Your Body: Yoga gives you time to relax, slow your breathing and help you focus on the present. This shift from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic system allows the body to relax and restore itself. You’ll release stress, lower your heart rate and decrease your blood pressure making you feel rejuvenated after every class.

Asheville Yoga Center is more than just a place to practice, it’s a supportive and loving community. Our staff and instructors are here for you through every step in your yoga journey as you grow and elevate your practice. We look forward to welcoming you into our family!

Intro to Yoga is a free class offered every Monday evening at 5:45pm. Sign up for class here to start your journey and explore what yoga has to offer. If you’d like more information or are interested in one-on-one coaching, please email Richard Fabio at rfabio@youryoga.com.

Shape Up for Spring

Spring is just around the corner which means it’s time to refresh, rejuvenate and get back to feeling your best! Shake off those winter blues and spring forward into a new season of endless opportunity. When we think of spring we think of new growth and fresh starts. The same goes for your health! A healthy body starts with nutrition, water and physical exercise. Whether you’re trying to tone and strengthen muscle, or you’re just working on having healthier habits, take advantage of the spring season to get back on track. Try this asana sequence to feel more grounded and shape up for spring.

Read the full article here.

The Benefits of Yoga in the Winter Season

Even for the most devoted yogi, the winter months can be a drag when it comes to getting motivated to hit the mat. We get it – cold, dark, lonely – who wouldn’t want to stay curled up at home? But consistently skipping your workout could backfire, especially in the colder months when your body (and mind) are most vulnerable to sickness and stress. So don’t take the season off. Here are some reasons to amp up your yoga practice this winter.

Read the full article here.

Shutting Down the Myths of Yoga

We’ve heard about every rumor, complaint, myth and lie about yoga. We wanted to take a moment to clear up some of the most common myths we hear. Whether you need to read this to help yourself, or share with others to clear up misconceptions, we hope this list of myths and truths will help more people understand the open, welcoming, challenging and engaging practice of yoga.

Myth 1: Yoga is only for people who are already in shape.

Yoga is for all bodies: short or tall, lean or overweight, flexible or stiff, open or reserved, young or old. Yoga meets you where you are. Whether you’re at your first class, returning after a break, or experienced in yoga, you can work at the level that’s right for you. Your instructor will help find positions that work for your body and your individual capabilities. You will be in a room free of judgment to work at your own pace. There is no competition or comparison in our yoga Studio.

Myth 2: Yoga is for mental health; it’s not really exercise.

While yoga is a wonderful practice to calm the mind, help with focus, and renew your mental energy, it is also a challenging physical exercise. Yoga may burn fewer calories than other more strenuous forms of exercise, but it can help create lean muscle which improves your metabolism. Yoga can help you form a stronger core, develop muscle strength and improve stamina. It’s a wonderful work out on its own or combined with other exercise practices.

Myth 3: Yoga is not for Christians or any other religion.

Yoga, as practiced in most classes in the U.S., is not a religion nor a religious practice. Yoga actually pulls from several religions, including Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, as well as New Age philosophies that combine many of the traditions from these religions. Someone from any religious or spiritual practice can pull from parts of these religions without converting or feeling like they’re betraying their own beliefs. The ideals of enlightenment, inner peace and personal renewal, can work well alongside anyone’s personal religious beliefs.

Myth 4: Yoga requires special, trendy clothes.

Recently, “yoga pants” has become a blanket term describing tight-fighting stretchy pants, usually worn by women. But yoga has never been defined by a certain look.  In fact, how you look has nothing to do with yoga. In yoga class, please come as you are! Yoga clothing should be comfortable and allow you to move easily, but it doesn’t need to be expensive or look a certain way. In some yoga practices you might see individuals wearing one color. In kundalini yoga, often times the yoga instructor and some of the students may be wearing predominantly white clothing. However, you’ll see plenty of looks and styles in any yoga class.

Myth 5: Yoga is hard.

Yoga class is entirely what you make of it. Speak to instructors and staff ahead of your first class to make sure you find a class that will be the right fit for you. There’s no competition in yoga, no demands to copy anyone else or keep up. Move at the pace that works for you. It should be challenging but not overly strenuous. If you’re pushing your body too hard, ease up and be more gentle. Remember, this is your practice!

Myth 6: Yoga forces you to do awkward positions with your body.

Like Myth 5, this misconception is passed around by people who are scared that a class will require them to tangle up in painful knots. That is not what yoga is about. Positions are presented step-by-step for you to ease your body into them. Some days, you may be able to do the exercise fully; other days, you may have to adjust to do less. Your instructor should give several options for getting into and holding a position that will allow you to find what works for you, whether you have a weak back, sore joints, issues with balance, limited flexibility or any other concerns. Keep in mind that you can always arrive early to speak with your instructor about any physical concerns or limitations you may have.

Myth 7: Yoga class makes you sleepy.

All yoga classes are different and have different goals. Some classes, such as Gentle Restorative and Yin, are geared towards relaxation. Other classes, like Warm Power Flow, are focused on awakening your energy and leaving you feeling engaged and ready to seize the day. While meditation is a part of many classes, it’s not in all of them. You can find a yoga class that matches what you need to work on in your life, whether that’s calming your mind or renewing your energy.

Myth 8: Yoga is a lifestyle; I can’t just take a class now and then.

You do not have to commit to a life as a yogi in order to enjoy the benefits of yoga. While some people do choose to take yoga classes several times a week, plenty of other people take yoga when they can. Some people even practice at home for convenience. Yoga can be integrated into a physical therapy practice, paired with another form of exercise, or perhaps just taken on vacation. You can drop into a class anytime and still reap the benefits of that hour of mind and body integration.

Don’t be scared to try a class now! We offer a free Intro to Yoga class every 1st and 3rd Monday of the month, so you can become more comfortable with yoga practice!