Yoga Suits Her
I’ve been teaching yoga since 1980. A lot of my identity is tied up with being a yoga teacher. What does that mean? What should that mean? On this site I explore my personal journey and provide commentary on the state of yoga in the twenty-first century. I invite you to have a look and see what may be here for you.
Photo by: Julie Slavin Photography, Old Bar
Long ago, I was inspired by a younger yogi when I observed the graceful way she practiced her postures. I could see that a large part of the ease she achieved was because her breathing never seemed to waver.
I think that at that time my poses looked and felt rough, and I would attribute it to the unskillful way I had of breathing.
Like most yoga beginners, I would hold my breath when I was unfamiliar with postures or else my breath would run ragged from trying too hard.
The breath is a delicate thing when we use it to describe the sigh of a breeze, meaning just the faintest whisper.
And, it is a mighty thing when we understand the breath as the sustainer of our lives from the cradle to the grave.
Why should we bother paying attention to something as commonplace as breathing? It’s because the breath intimately interfaces with our emotions and our mind activity. The ancient yogis understood from experiments with breathing that the way we influenced our breathing would change the mood of the mind and its thoughts.
If the breath is irregular or laboured, all we really need to do is to relax. When I remember to relax my diaphragm and my whole body, the breath begins to re-establish itself in a more natural rhythm. It can be as simple as letting go, which can actually be very hard when talking about lifetime patterns. This is where physical yoga can help.
Yoga postures are indispensable in making room for the breath. Props, like bolsters, chairs, blocks, and blankets – all kinds of stuff to lie over – open the thoracic and abdominal cavities to the breath. Stretching, twisting and inverting feel good to the body, and at the same time, they shine a light into all those internal nooks and crannies that may have been ignored for years.
As people grow older, they may suffer the ravages of poor posture, diseases, unresolved injuries, stiffening and swelling of joints, even just the effects of gravity. All these take an enormous toll on breathing. If one’s breathing worsens over time, energy levels drop and thinking becomes dull. And, when one feels less energetic, all of the above problems can be exacerbated.
You know how it works, whether you’re young or old. You’re tired, you don’t want to move, and you become more lethargic – a debilitating cycle.
Here’s a couple of passive poses you could do to open your chest up for better breathing.
Here’s just one bolster as a support for an easy backbend:
And, if you happen to have 15 bolsters, you’ll be in heaven!
Any bookshop, whether online or bricks and mortar, can order copies of Teach Yourself Yoga. Just ask and quote ISBN: 978-0-6487945-0-9.
Please send me feedback about the book. I’d love to hear about any errors or problems with eBooks on various devices. And please review the book wherever you get it. Reviews will help more people discover the book.
The Previous 3 Posts
Daniel and I have been country residents now for about nine weeks now. That means that I’ve probably logged in about 60 6 am yoga practices in the Shed. I’ve hardly missed a morning…me who used to love to do my yoga practice in the afternoons to put myself back together after the stresses and strains of the early part of the day. It sounds odd, I suppose, that yoga teachers need to put themselves back together. […]
Maybe it was a little arrogant of me to be in advising mode on Day One of 2010 when in fact I hadn’t volunteered what I was up for this year. Certainly Day Three of the New Year can’t be too late. So, here goes: I am going to be a nicer person. There!
And how am I going to achieve this? Well, there are the truly obvious ways:
•Don’t yell at people. Especially my best friends and husband.
•Do be generous. […]
I know, I know. Yoga teachers all want to teach remotely. I’ve been no exception. Here are some video and audio productions that I’ve made. Not many – it’s something that I alway mean to get around to.
No, I’m not selling yoga mats or clothing. I don’t even have a t-shirt… yet. But from time to time I find myself with something that someone may want. Have a look, I’m never sure what you’ll find.