I’m officially a yoga instructor now. Who wants to come over and do yoga?
I’m not planning on actually teaching on a schedule in a studio anywhere, but I have plans for how to integrate yoga into what I already do and I like the idea of doing small group sessions in a series.
I also like the idea of combining yoga and food…how can I do that?
One thing I’ve noticed about myself since I began doing yoga regularly about 5 years ago is that I can have a significant impact on how I feel when I breathe a certain way. This helps me when I’m anxious, especially.
I wrote about Soft Belly breathing when I completed training in Mind-Body Skills last October, and I often have people email me about it (not to mention, “how to get a soft belly” is a search term that leads people to that post daily…however, I’m not sure how relevant that is!). When I facilitate mind-body skills groups (which are generally weekly meetings with 6-8 people for 8 weeks, where I teach about and we practice all kinds of mind-body skills), we always open with a short five-minute soft-belly breathing exercise.
Sometimes it lulls me into a daze …and then I have to pull myself back together so I can make sure the participants get their money’s worth 🙂
The science behind deep belly breathing is straightforward—when we breathe into our bellies, we stimulate the Vagus nerve (I wrote about that once too). The Vagus nerve sends a message to the brain to relax. It’s a great easy thing to practice, and I like to describe it to people as relaxing from the inside-out, instead of trying to rely on the environment around us to cause relaxation (that’s just too variable to depend on!).
Since breathing is automatic and involuntary, it’s going to happen whether we think about doing it or not…but we do have significant control over the way we breathe. This week, since I’m focusing on yoga and my sauna everyday (only two days so far), I have the space and time to really focus on breathing deeply.
Today was especially good. Monday is a very busy day for me–Most online classes end on Sunday night (although a couple end on Tuesday night), so Monday is the start of new units and a day full of grading and giving feedback so students can use it to make improvements in the new week. When I get a certain amount of work done on a Monday, I tend to relax naturally and the pressure/intensity of my To Do List dissipates. Lately, I’ve been having a hard time turning off the work—I just keep working until bedtime on Mondays. Today, though, I took a yoga/sauna break in the middle of the day and then had a meeting with my yoga teacher (about my certification) after that. I took full advantage of the yoga flow to breathe deeply, and then I focused on it again while in the sauna (although I daydreamed a bit too).
It’s amazing how awesome I felt afterward!
And now, I’m just relaxing, eating half-done pizza kale chips out of the dehydrator, and thinking about when I can fit yoga/sauna in tomorrow.
Side note: I just read an article about skin health and stress—and one of the less obvious ways to make your skin clear, glowing, and vibrant, is to do yoga. It’s a natural chiropractor, and when the spine is not aligned it affects everything from digestion to organ function (and this affects your skin and detoxification pathways!). Not to mention, if you’re less stressed through yoga and breathing, you have less of the stress hormones circulating in your body (and they can cause skin issues too).
Do you use your breath to make yourself feel better and relax? I often breathe into my belly, and then feel it expand out into my arms and legs to my fingers and toes.
Have you ever used an infrared sauna? I know I’ve mentioned it a few times lately, and some people have asked about it…I’ll talk about it soon (but now I’ll just say, I highly recommend it!).