It's All About that Breath

If you read my previous blog post, you know that I encourage slow movement in my classes. It's a lot easier to rush through movements and poses, but it takes a great deal of focused concentration to slow things down and move mindfully through your practice. 

Oh yeah, and are you remembering to breathe and link your movements with your breath? Are you able to breathe slowly?

I think getting a handle on your breathing can be one of the most difficult parts of a yoga practice, especially for newbies who are not used to thinking about their breath at all. 

During a private session with a new student this morning, I noticed that while she was breathing well while holding a pose, all bets were off when she started moving. So I decided to break out a tool I use with my flute students - the metronome! 

I set it on 60 beats per minute, and first we practiced the breath on its own, just to equalize the inhales and exhales. We started with two clicks of the metronome (seconds) per inhale and exhale, but then decided to stretch it out to three when we added movement because it seemed too fast.

This proved to be a very enlightening exercise because it showed where she tended to shorten the breath and henceforth rush through the movement. 

I discovered similar discrepancies when I tried it for myself. As a musician, I'm used to drawing out my exhales for days, but my inhales, not so much. Some movements seemed too fast, others too slow. Just like when practicing tricky flute passages, the metronome will keep you honest! 

Now I'm not suggesting you do your yoga practice to a metronome on a regular basis, but give it a try once to see just how steady your breath and movement are. (P. S. There are online metronomes and apps, or if you have an old-fashioned clock with a ticking second hand, that works, too.)

Here's my attempt at a four-second breath during my vinyasa:


Try it! And, if that experience creates any "a-ha!" moments for you, I'd love to hear about it in the comments.