Good evening all!
I hope everyone’s week is going well and that you are taking some time to get outside and enjoy the weather, because before you know it, September will be here and with it the colder air of fall.
Why do I bring up taking time to get outside? That’s because I know, like everyone else that you can easily get stuck in a groove: wake up, eat, work, and then home again with no change, no spontaneity.
Lately I have been reading a few books that Kimberly has lent me, one is called, “Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude” by Neal Pollack, a narrative tale by a 35ish columnist who struggles with everyday life until he discovers yoga, the story is extremely entertaining for anyone who practices yoga, and the second more serious book I am reading is, “40 Days to Personal Revolution” by Baron Baptiste.”
Now you may question the seemingly non-connection to these two books except that they are both about yoga but actually they are about change, getting out of the same old routine.
Baron Baptiste, who has founded the Baptiste Power Yoga Institute, and is the person of influence behind the yoga we practice at The Yoga Hive. I have always wondered who Baptiste was and until I started reading this book, I never knew he was neither so young nor so easy to understand for a beginner yogi such as myself. However, what Baron is focusing in on his book, specifically in part one, is all about transformation.
“Many of us are searching without knowing exactly what we are looking for”
This quote in my opinion is how I would describe many people in today’s busy, always rushing world. I work at a hotel and I see hundreds of aimless corporate travelers who are always on the road and always busy, with no time to themselves and no time for change. Baron says it perfectly when he discusses how yoga can help one change,
“I hear nearly everyday in my classroom: ‘how did I get myself into this state, and how can I get out?’
Now of course not everyone who begins yoga is questioning why he or she are there, some people are very happy with their lives and just love the relaxation that comes from yoga. But I think Baptiste is on to something, I think I know why I find it hard to motivate myself to head to yoga, but when I am done, find it hard to not want to come back and practice more.
When it comes down to it, Baptiste really just takes a few moments to concentrate on why we should change. The book, which I found very easy to understand and clear of the deeper intellectual thinking that many associate with yoga text.
However, that is not to say that this book is fluff or not useful, I just think it’s a more understandable approach to yoga. In part one, Baptiste focuses on setting yourself up for beginning change and then moves into the second part where he begins putting his ideas along with poses. Ultimately, for a beginner I enjoyed this book, and as a bonus I also got to see how to correctly do certain poses.
So remember, take a few moments to go and relax and change out of your work self and into a more relaxed one. I know I will.
Good afternoon everyone!
It’s been nearly a month since I started practicing yoga and I can definitely say that I personally see a significant improvement in my form when I practice, now of course it’s still not perfect but I have better balance in poses and I’ve even learned some of the words for the positions so I am not longer clueless when the teacher says, chaturanga or my favorite position, savasana or laying down.
Now I don’t just enjoy savasana because it’s lying down and probably the easiest position in yoga but because to me it is the most relaxing position. After all what is more relaxing than staring up at the ceiling in complete silence? My mind is clear of everything, work, bills everything; and most importantly I have a satisfied feeling that I tried my best in class.
However, there is one part of yoga I haven’t quite mastered, my breathing. In the latest class I attended, Kimberly spoke often of breathing and it’s importance to practicing yoga. I completely understand the importance of maintaining proper breathing during poses, however, I often find myself holding my breath while attempting a posture, which seems to be a natural reaction to exertion, think low plank.
All of this concentration on proper breathing led me to seek out more on the importance of breathing in yoga.
When the Breath wanders, the mind is unsteady, but when the Breath is still, so is the mind still.” – Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
There are many types of yoga according to what I have read but there appears to be recurring principles to them all. And that is when I discovered the five principles of yoga, which are:
Asanas –proper exercise or posture.
Pranayama – proper breathing.
Diet – proper diet, nourishing and well balanced.
Positive thinking and meditation – practicing to think positively.
Today, I’d like to focus on pranayama, which is Sanskrit meaning, “extension of the life force.”
The life force I am speaking of is breathing. The practice of pranayama is used in the preparation for meditation, which is one of the five principles of yoga.
Some interesting things I have learned:
The average person only uses a fraction of their lungs capacity, and this fact combined with the stresses of everyday life mean that we breathe fast and shallow from our chest instead of slowly and deeply.
The practice of pranayama can have many positives if practiced with a teacher who is trained properly. Since breathing is autonomic, meaning involuntary and important to vital functions, altering breathing can affect your body in ways that will help you but could possibly hurt you. Some of the ways one can benefit is from pranayama are:
- Relieving stress and better self-control
- Allows for more efficient use of lung capacity
- To control blood pressure and metabolism
However, if you are not in the best physical condition the practice of pranayama can lead to loss of consciousness and increase pre-existing problems in people with heart and lung conditions.
I make every effort to push myself when practicing yoga and fight through the pain but I also do realize that I am still very much a beginner and would rather work towards better form than hurt myself.
It is no wonder that when someone is stressed or upset they are often reminded to take deep, slow breaths, a natural way to calm the body and mind. I feel that it makes complete sense that teachers of yoga stress proper breathing, but our hectic lives don’t always cooperate, I for one can attest to this.
The main reason I sometimes have issues with my breathing practicing yoga is because I feel the pain in my legs or my arms and cannot focus on my breathing it would seem I have yet to reach that skill level in my practice.
Well that was just some food for thought when you are on your mat in the eagle position trying to steady yourself and breathe at the same time.
Remember just breathe…