Tips to Maintain Your Practice as a Yoga Teacher

Despite the therapeutic nature of yoga, being an instructor is not without its challenges. With hours spent teaching multiple yoga classes at different yoga studios, events, and taking time to prepare for workshops, it can be really difficult to make time for a personal practice. It can be tough when you are feeling tired and burned out from external factors going on in life. However, maintaining your practice and continuing to learn are two of the best things you can do for yourself and your career.

Fuel Your Passion for Yoga

You cannot be an effective teacher and help your students if you don’t feel inspired or connected to your own practice. Your students show up for you and want to learn from you, so being able to relate to them is essential. If you’re feeling disengaged, take some time to think back to what it is that drew you to yoga and inspired you to become a teacher in the first place. Creating space for reflection will once again ignite your passion and rekindle your love for yoga.

Create a Home Practice

We all know life can get incredibly busy, but even if you can only make time for a daily 30-minute practice, that’s a great place to start. Here are a few tips to make things easier:

Prepare your space the night before: Set up your mat and props that you want to use so that you do not have to think about it in the morning. Everything you need is right there waiting for you.

Commit to a time to practice and make it consistent: This can be one of the most challenging things to schedule, but if you stick to a specific time each day, it will become an easy routine.

Remove distractions: Make this time about you. Leave electronic devices behind and relish in the peace and quiet of your own practice.

Keep a notebook close by: After your practice, jot down the sequence you did or any enlightening thoughts you had. Personal notes are great bits of information to share in your classes.

Put on Your Student Hat

Do you aspire to be a better teacher? The answer is easy: become a student. There are so many areas of yoga to explore and continuing your education will allow you to expand your horizons and give you an opportunity to practice with other experts in the field.

300-Hour Advanced Studies

Taking the next steps in your education shows that you’ve made a commitment to both personal growth and to your career. If you’re feeling stuck in your teaching, the 300-Hour Teacher Training Program will give you a broader scope of knowledge and exposure. You can learn how to teach yoga to children, elderly adults, or expand your expertise to include ashtanga, bhakti, restorative yoga, and so much more. The 300-Hour Program is designed to provide the opportunity to make choices in the areas of yoga that inspire you most while creating flexibility with your schedule. Learn more about AYC’s 300-Hour Program here.

Find the Style of Yoga for Your Body

If you’re ready to make a fitness change this year, you don’t have to dread spending hours in the gym or agonize over going to a strenuous workout class. Fitness should be something that you look forward to and something that serves your body. You should love your body and love feeling healthy!

For many, a New Year’s Resolution comes with losing a certain amount of weight. This can be somewhat frustrating, and more often than not we see people give up on their goals soon after starting. This year, what if you changed your mindset on your fitness resolution? Instead, create a goal of feeling good and loving your body: the most important home you have to take care of.

Yoga comes with a multitude of styles that range from relaxed and rejuvenating practices to rigorous practices and can be a great fit for anybody. What are you looking for in a yoga practice to meet your needs? Here, we’ll break down a few styles so you can see just how much yoga has to offer.

Restorative Yoga

You’ve just been through a busy and possibly hectic holiday season with shopping, parties with friends, and many family gatherings. You’re tired and your body is telling you it needs some time to relax and recover. Restorative yoga could be the perfect practice for you as you dive into the new year. This style is a gentle, calming, therapeutic practice that soothes the nervous system and releases physical and mental tension. Props such as blankets, blocks, bolsters, and straps support the body in gentle stretching sequences and nurturing, sustained postures that ease the entire system into relaxation and balance. If your body feels like it needs added rest, then a restorative yoga class could be the perfect place to start.

Hot Yoga

Energize your new year with hot yoga! If you want to get back in shape, strengthen your muscles, and increase flexibility, then hot yoga may be the right move for you. Temperatures in a hot yoga class are usually in the 90’s, which makes it easier for your muscles to stretch. This will also increase your heart rate as your body works to keep you cool, and a higher heart rate results in a better cardio workout. Sweating it out in a heated room gives your body the opportunity to cleanse itself and release built up toxins that will leave you feeling renewed and energized from head to toe.

Bhakti

If you are looking for something inspiring, this particular style will introduce to the spiritual side of yoga. Bhakti offers you a path to self-realization, exploring a unique experience of oneness with everything around you. Asheville Yoga Center offers Bhakti flow classes, which combine the chanting of universal mantras with the grace of vinyasa flow yoga. Class usually opens with a musical style of group chanting, sometimes accompanied by instruments, sometimes voices only. The remainder of class is vinyasa flow, which incorporates different postures into a specific sequence with ujjayi breathing, mindful alignment, and a meditative focus.

This new year, listen to your body and do something kind for it. You can find exactly what you need from your yoga practice and enjoy all the benefits that come with it without straining yourself at the gym. Make this your best start to a new year.

See our full list of classes here.

Show Your Light

Take a minute to think about some of your most influential yoga teachers. How did they impact your life? What qualities did they possess that made you admire them?

Yoga teachers are some of the most nurturing, impactful people that you will meet in your life. Going through 200-Hour teacher training will equip you with the essential tools you need to share your love of yoga and start inspiring others in your own classes or out in your community. Just like your favorite yoga teachers, you too can be a light to others and help them grow.

The knowledge that you’ll learn in 200-Hour teacher training will stay with you for the rest of your life, and you’ll find that you start implementing practices and teachings from training in your everyday life and in your relationships. You’ll learn the spiritual aspects of yoga, breath work, ethical codes, meditation and more. These gems of wisdom will help you serve others in and out of the classroom and will grow your love and appreciation for yoga beyond your personal practice.

How You Can Be an Inspiring Yoga Teacher

Care About Your Students

Impactful teachers are the ones who check in with their students and form relationships with them. Take time to really get to know individuals who come to your classes and build relationships with the ones who are regulars. Going that extra mile will end up giving you and your students an even more fulfilling experience.

Live by What You Teach

Be a teacher devoted to your practice and someone who truly lives yogic values on and off the mat. Your students will be inspired by the love you share both in the classroom and beyond.

Be Present, Not Perfect

When you start teaching, you may feel pressure to make your classes flow perfectly like some of the classes you’ve taken from your favorite teachers. But yoga isn’t about fitting into a mold of perfection. Remember, you’re just starting out and things aren’t going to always go the way you want them to and that’s okay. Your students will admire you for trying and being humble as you embrace your career.

Serving others starts by implementing your own personal growth, and you will blossom beyond belief through training. You’ll learn so much and be ready to grow personally and inspire those around you with the goodness you find from yoga. This is your time to jump in!

AYC’s 200-Hour Teacher Training Program 

Asheville Yoga Centers offers 3-week immersions and 9-weekend course options for students to complete their Yoga Alliance RYT-200 yoga certification, but the curriculum is the same no matter which path you choose. Each day of yoga training will consist of about 50% asana and 50% lecture/discussion. You’ll cover multiple topics such as yoga poses, meditation, philosophy, pranayama, anatomy, sequencing, assists, and a variety of different styles of yoga. You’ll also get to learn from eight highly skilled and experienced instructors.

This month, receive free books when you register for your 200-Hour training! Prices are increasing in 2020!

Stay Ahead of the Winter Blues

It’s easy to fall into the winter blues when temperatures plummet and it’s dark and dreary outside. You might find that you start feeling lethargic and it might become harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning. These are all symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, a seasonal form of depression triggered by the lack of sunshine in the wintertime. The source of the problem comes from a disturbance in your body’s circadian rhythm that changes your body’s levels of serotonin and melatonin. If you find yourself feeling blue, here are some tips to help you feel better through the winter months!

Stick to a Schedule

Most people who suffer from SAD have a hard time sleeping at night and waking up in the morning. Keeping your body on a regular sleep schedule can help you get a better night’s sleep which deters symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.

Spend Time with Others

Having quality time with friends and loved ones can really lift your spirits when the weather is cold and grey outside. Plan fun activities to do, grab a cup of coffee, a meal, or coordinate going to a yoga class with your friends. Having some things to look forward to during the week will help tremendously!

Take Time to Exercise

Giving your body exercise and exposure to light during the winter months is one of the best ways you can combat SAD. No one likes to be cooped up inside for a long period of time, so if it’s not too cold, try to get outside as much as you can. Walking or running outside can be very beneficial to the body since you get exercise and exposure to sunshine and light. If you can’t get outside, then take your exercise inside! Spend 30 minutes on a bike, treadmill or make time for your favorite yoga class.

Yoga practice is a great way to combat SAD by tapping into the mind-body connection. It is an incredible tool to reset the nervous system and help release tension and stress by increasing your serotonin levels. If you have a case of the winter blues, try incorporating these poses into your practice.

Standing Backbend

Start by standing on your mat with your feet planted strongly on the floor. Firm your glutes and raise your hands up over your head with your palms together. Push your hips forward, look backward and lift your chest up towards the sky. This pose will help open your heart and lengthen your body.

Child’s Pose

Let your body relax and reset in Child’s Pose. From all fours, sink your hips back toward your heels and lower your body towards your thighs. Reach your arms out in front of you and rest there for as long as your body needs.

Cat-Cow Flow

In the winter, the spine and back can feel very stiff when exposed to cold temperatures. Cat-Cow flow can help release this tension in your muscles. In tabletop position, evenly distribute your weight through your hands and legs. For Cat pose, exhale your belly button towards your spine and lift upwards, scooping the tailbone and allowing the chin to rest on your chest. For Cow pose, inhale and lift your sitting bones and chest toward the ceiling and allow your belly to sink towards the floor. Lift your head to look straight ahead. Complete as many rounds of the two as you would like.

 

If you find yourself feeling down, give your body a re-charge with these daily practices and yoga asanas! If you are looking for some activity to help you get out of the house, try a style of yoga that your body is craving by viewing our full schedule of classes.

Raising Awareness and Support for Carolina Resource Center for Eating Disorders

“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve… You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” — Martin Luther King.

Yoga teaches us to serve on and off the mat. When we show up for class, we’re serving ourselves by giving our mind and body time to come together as one. Yoga is a beautiful way of life centered around mindfulness, appreciation, love and servitude, and we should all aim to reflect those values in our daily lives.

We invite you to open your heart and show servitude off the mat by supporting Carolina Resource Center for Eating Disorders, our Charity of the Month, in December. AYC will be raising awareness and funds for Carolina Resource Center for Eating Disorders as they continue to be a shining light in the community by empowering those struggling with eating disorders. They are committed to promoting healthy relationships with food, movement and body image; eliminating stigma; and fostering acceptance and healing. The organization has served WNC for 15 years and remains the only nonprofit in NC supporting individuals, families and professionals concerned with disordered eating and recovery from eating disorders.

The effects of eating disorders can be crippling from both the mental and physical struggles they have on individuals. If you know someone with an eating disorder, the best thing you can do is support, encourage and help them through her battles. Show them love and appreciation. Hold their hand and be their cheerleader.

The latest statistics on eating disorders indicate that 30 million people in the U.S. will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime. But, up to 80 percent of patients who receive and complete treatment will recover or improve significantly. We can work harder to make sure those struggling with eating disorders have access to resources they need to get better. Here’s what you can do to help.

On Thursday, December 26, please join us for our Day of Giving where 10% of drop-in and community class proceeds will be donated to Carolina Resource Center for Eating Disorders. Choose from a variety of beginner-friendly classes, flow-style classes, hot classes, and more. If you’d like to give a monetary donation, boxes will be available in the Studio and Boutique for the entirety of the month.

Put your practice into action to serve members of our community who need it most! This holiday season, you can be the shining light in someone else’s life.

Learn more about Carolina Resource Center for Eating Disorders here.

There are so many goodies nestled in the Boutique and Studio! In an effort to make your holiday shopping easy and stress-free, we’ve developed this comprehensive gift guide to give you a variety of great, affordable gift options for your yogi this holiday season.

Gift Ideas for Any Yoga Practice

The holidays are a busy and stressful time which is why yoga is even more necessary for your loved one! In the Boutique, you’ll find endless options to complement any level yoga practitioner.

Towels

Is your yogi ready to try a more rigorous class?  Do they complain that they constantly slip on their mat? A mat towel is a great compliment to any power or heated practice and will help them reach their goals. We carry Manduka mat towels in the Boutique which absorb sweat from class, keep any yoga mat clean and dry, and will help retain grip on the mat.

Massage Balls

Take time for self-care during the holidays! You and your loved one can relax by using multiuse massage balls and rollers from RADroller. They are perfect for pressure point work on almost any area of the body and will relieve unwanted tension in the body’s muscles.

Blankets

Yoga blankets are gentle props that provide sources of warmth and heat when blocks or bolsters seem to be too much. They make Savasana cozy and warm, plus they can put joints at ease with added relaxation.

Blocks

We have two sustainable types of blocks in the Boutique that are perfect for your environmentally conscious yogi. Our Dragonfly Cork blocks are made from natural and sustainable cork to provide stability to any practice. You can also find locally made, organic buckwheat blocks from Carolina Morning that simultaneously support and cushion.

Mat Bags and Straps

Enhance your yogi’s practice with a mat bag to help them easily transport their yoga mat to and from class. There are a variety of colors and patterns available in the Boutique. Straps are also great tools for any practice as they give control to poses that might seem more difficult to grasp. They come in a variety of colors and sizes to aid your yogi.

Patterned Journals

Enhance your yogi’s meditation and yoga practice with a patterned journal! These beautiful notebooks will help aid with intention setting and give ample space needed to write down thoughts and reflections.

Local and Handcrafted Jewelry

Gift your yogi with beautiful jewelry for any occasion this holiday season.

 

Wigwam

Shop an array of beautifully hand-crafted earrings made by our very own instructor, Maeve Hendrix. These unique pieces have detailed metal work and custom jewels to make your yogi sparkle and shine.

Japa Mala

Explore a wide variety of wrist malas and full malas made by local brand, Japa Mala. Each piece is made with hand-polished stones and are great additions to your yogi’s meditation practice. These are also perfect budget gifts to keep your shopping low cost.

SoulKu

These handmade pieces are sure to delight! SoulKu jewelry is tasteful and locally made with love. Their single stone necklaces are striking in simplicity and encourage different characteristics and elements in each customer’s life. They can aid in intention setting, meditation and are beautifully ornamental!

AYC Gear and Goodies

Tops

Asheville Yoga Center branded tank tops, t-shirts and long-sleeve shirts are available in an assortment of colors and styles. These apparel items are extremely comfortable and will make a great addition to any yoga wardrobe or workout.

Hydroflasks

These beautifully crafted, double wall, vacuum insulated flasks keep your yogi’s cold drinks colder and hot drinks hotter! Need something for travel? Easily take any drink of choice in the car and on the go. Branded with the Asheville Yoga Center’s iconic logo, we have various styles, sizes and colors available.

Handcrafted Mugs

What better way to celebrate the winter solstice than by cozying up with a steaming hot beverage in an AYC mug! These handmade, clay mugs are thoughtful and unique gifts for anyone. They’re great in the morning for coffee, at night for a cup of warm tea by the fire or on the go!

Home Décor

Add zen to any home with these yoga themed decorative pieces!

Funky Yoga Doormats

These mats are welcoming, sustainable and are made from recycled fibers. They are woven from natural coconut fiber bristles, which are inserted into a weatherproof vinyl backing, and the bristles offer a unique brush-style cleaning surface. These mats are durable and will give an inviting, cozy touch to any home.

Wind Chimes and Bells

Wind chimes and bells are calming and will enhance the esthetic look of any home. These yoga themed pieces, from Matr Boomie, are the perfect addition to create a warm and serene experience. Choose from a variety of designs and sizes!

Gift Cards

Some people are so hard to shop for! But for your picky yogi, an AYC gift card is a great choice. Don’t stress about finding that “perfect something.” Let your loved one pick out exactly what they want from apparel, props and accessories in the Boutique. You can even give your yogi yoga classes if that’s what they need most! Studio gift cards can be purchased in-person or online. Gift cards to the Boutique can only be purchased in-person.

We hope these ideas help you as you start your holiday shopping! If you need any help finding gifts or have questions about our products, a member of our team will be happy to help you. Visit us daily from 11am-6pm in the Boutique!

Give the Gift of Yoga

During the stressful holiday season, yoga classes might just be the gift your yogi needs most! If your loved one wants to get started with their yoga journey, you can gift them with 30 days of yoga with an Intro Special. Want to take it up a notch? We also have an Intro Special Bundle which includes an Intro Special, mat, block and strap to equip any yogi with the tools they need for their practice.

Does your loved one already have a practice? Treat them to the ultimate yoga gift with an unlimited or limited membership! Visit our Studio for more information.

Practice Karma Yoga in Your Life

One of the surest ways to find happiness in life is by curating a servant heart. The Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Indian text, views karma yoga, the Hindu path of service to others, as the gateway to spiritual fulfillment and life-long happiness. It is centered around purifying your heart by learning to act selflessly in service of others. Through this type of yoga, we can learn kindness and compassion without any expectation of personal gain. It allows us to leave our egos and puts us on the path to enlightenment and self-realization. This month, we are putting karma yoga into practice by supporting MANNA FoodBank.

There are many ways that you can incorporate karma yoga into your life. You might choose to help an elderly neighbor in need, travel abroad for global service or volunteer with a charity in your local community. Remember, above all, this practice is about giving to those in need, sharing love and spreading light.

Karma yoga seems even more appropriate during this season of Thanksgiving where we focus on the things in our lives that we’re thankful for and emphasize giving to others. During this time of reflection, it’s only appropriate to give back to those who may be struggling and are in need of kindness, love and support.

How You Can Support MANNA FoodBank

During the month of November, we invite you to practice karma yoga in your life by helping us support MANNA FoodBank, our Charity of the Month, as they work to beat hunger in Western North Carolina. Founded in 1983, MANNA is a private, not-for-profit service organization, that links the food industry with over 200 partner agencies in 16 counties of WNC. Their mission is to involve, educate and unite people in the work of ending hunger in Western North Carolina.

A food bin will be available in the Studio all month long if you would like to donate food or cleaning items. On Thursday, November 21, you can also support MANNA FoodBank by visiting the Studio for a drop-in or community class where we’ve pledged to give 10 percent of class proceeds to the nonprofit. Donation boxes will also be available in the Studio and the Boutique from the first day of November until the last day of the month.

Please go to https://www.mannafoodbank.org/how-you-can-help/donate/donate-food/ for a list of acceptable donations.

Bring Gratitude into Your Practice 

Invite gratitude into your practice! Next time you’re on your mat, try these poses to open your heart and mind to cultivate an attitude of giving.

Child’s Pose

Start on your hands and knees and bring your toes together behind you. Spread your knees out as far apart as you can while still feeling comfortable. Stretch your arms out in front of you and sit back on your heels. Lay your torso forward and rest your forehead on your mat. In this pose, give gratitude for being alive.

Standing Forward Fold

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and fold forward. Relax your head and neck and allow your arms to dangle. While you’re here for a few breaths, give gratitude to your feet and for all the journeys they’ve taken you on.

Mountain Pose

Stand up tall with your feet hip-width apart. Breathe in and reach your arms up over your head. Turn your palms inward and extend up through your fingertips. Take your gaze up towards the ceiling and take 5 deep breaths. With this pose, find gratitude for the season and for the upcoming year!

Form Relationships to Last a Lifetime

When you embark on your 200-Hour Teacher Training, you’re immersing yourself in a one-of-a-kind education. But there’s something even more special about this experience beyond just the deep learning. You’ll become a part of a community that will change your life forever.

Dedicating time for a training may seem a little scary when you have to travel to a new destination with people you’ve never met before. If you feel nervous, take a deep breath and trust that this will be worth every second of your time. You’re coming together with a group of like-minded people in an atmosphere that will benefit both you and your other classmates.

A community is defined as a group of people residing in the same place sharing a common characteristic. The community you’ll find in training will quickly become so much more than that. These individuals will share your goals of love, integrity, growth and service. More importantly, this community will be one that supports you, understands you and inspires you. They will turn into your family, and you’ll make cherished connections that will last the rest of your life.

Make Real Connections

In a world that’s driven by social media and impersonal contact, how special is it to have the opportunity to make real connections that will positively impact your future? These relationships are the key to a happy, healthy life and that’s exactly what you’ll find in 200-Hour Training.

Learn from Others

The 3-week or 9-weekend program will give you the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life with completely unique backgrounds and life experiences. Spending time with individuals who grew up differently from you will open your mind and give you exposure to new things.

Health Benefits of Meaningful Relationships

It’s no secret that strong, supportive relationships can boost overall health. In fact, they have been linked to lower rates of anxiety and depression, higher self-esteem, and greater empathy. By fostering a bond with others who also share a love and passion for yoga will lead to greater fulfillment in your own life.

AYC’s 200-Hour Teacher Training Program

Whether you choose to take the 3-week or 9-weekend program, this opportunity will allow you to have the confidence and experience you need to start educating and sharing the love of yoga with others. Expand your practice and explore a greater understanding of yoga with world-class instructors. The 200-Hour Teacher Training program will give you the community and support you need and leave you with life-long friendships.

Support the Hope Chest for Women, AYC’s October Charity of the Month

One of Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga is the Law of Giving and Receiving. It states that giving and receiving are different expressions of the same flow of energy in the universe. The core meaning behind this law is that giving to others will bring the same joy, harmony and good karma into your own life.

Have you ever experienced that feel-good moment when you’ve helped someone in need? This effect of giving is called “giver’s glow” and actually begins in the brain. Acts of philanthropy release several different happiness chemicals, including dopamine and endorphins which are correlated to feelings of tranquility and serenity. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we invite you to support our Charity of the Month, the Hope Chest for Women. Here are a few ways you can inspire your giving spirit on the mat.

Giving on the Mat

Take some time to open your heart chakra to fuel the giving spirit inside of you. Any poses that open up the chest will target your heart chakra. Here are two poses to incorporate into your practice.

Camel Pose or Ustrasana

Kneel on the floor with your knees hip-width apart and thighs perpendicular to the floor. Rotate your thighs inward slightly, firm your buttocks and press your shins and the tops of your feet firmly on the floor. Rest your hands on the back of your pelvis with the bases of your palms on the tops of your buttocks with fingers pointing downward. Inhale and lift your heart by pressing the shoulder blades against your back ribs. Lean back and keep your head up.

Locust Pose or Salabhasana

Lie on your belly with your arms resting along the sides of your torso, palms up and head resting on the floor. Exhale and lift your head, upper torso, arms and legs away from the floor. You should be resting on your lower ribs, belly and front pelvis at this point. Raise your arms parallel to the floor, stretch backwards through your fingertips and keep your gaze forward.

Support Local Women in Need During October

AYC is proud to support The Hope Chest for Women during October in alignment with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The nonprofit offers financial assistance for both medical and non-medical expenses, along with information on community resources, education on cancer prevention, and emotional support to women in Western North Carolina living with breast or gynecological cancers.

According to cancer.net, there are more than three million women who currently have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States. By raising awareness for The Hope Chest for Women, we as a community can support women living with or recovering from breast cancer right here in our local area. We invite members of the community to join us on Thursday, October 24 for our Day of Giving where 10% of proceeds from community and drop-in classes will be donated. If you’d like to give a monetary donation, boxes will be available in the Studio and Boutique.

Whether you attend class in the Studio or just want to make a contribution, you can enhance your personal life and help someone else rebuild theirs.

Save 40% on blue and pink JadeYoga mats in the Boutique. These mats are eco-friendly and are made with natural rubber containing no PVC or other synthetic rubbers. Offer valid through October 31. Limited supply available.

 

 

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.