Breath Connected Movement
Updated: Nov 16, 2022
If you or your students have trouble connecting with your breath, it is no surprise.
The hardest thing to “get” in a vinyasa yoga class is the breath connection whether you are holding a pose or moving from one to the next. Cuing and practicing the breath in and through postures is one of the hardest concepts to grasp.
The breath anchors our practice and once we understand this we can utilize it on and off the mat. If you came to your mat for the first time as a physical practice to get in shape; then it is usually the cultivation of breath awareness that calms the mind and brings that feeling of inner peace that keeps you here; again, the anchor of your practice.
My goal in this article and video is to bring awareness to your breath and give you a foundation to build upon as you practice and as you teach.
Follow these steps to cultivate your breath:
1. Just breathe
The first stage of awareness is just noticing your breath and realizing when you are holding it and when the instructor cues ``find your breath” and you realize you have stopped breathing completely. You have stopped breathing because you are in uncomfortable shape or anxious to move on to the next posture. Holding the breath has the opposite effect of what we want yoga to bring to our life. Holding your breath or stressing shallow breaths is what we are trying to correct. Noticing this pattern in your practice is the first step to overcoming this tendency.
2. When to inhale and when to exhale
Inhale when you expand or lengthen the body (ie. Urdhva Hastasana or Mountain pose) and exhale as you fold or compress (ie. Uttanasana or forward fold).
My personal “Aha” moment happened when practicing breath-connected movement during Surya Namaskar A or Sun A. Check out this video (Sun A starts at the 16:13 minute mark) and practice until you can feel this in your body and mind. If you lose breath along the way then, reset and repeat until you have it down.
In this video you will learn:
How breath-connected movement feels in the body.
How to guide yourself and your students through Sun Salutations and feel the physical and mental benefits.
Practice breathing as you move into each posture cueing the part of breath and the name of the pose.
Another good practice to connect with your breath is to hold a pose.
For example in Virabhadrasana II or Warrior 2, practice the subtle movement with each part of the breath.
After you have set up the foundational pose; inhale as you lengthen the sides of the body and improve your posture, lifting your sternum.
On the exhale feel a surrender into the posture as you settle into the pose.