Stepping into a yoga class for the first time can be intimidating for a lot of reasons. One topic that instructors are commonly asked about is the topic of breath. Below is a breakdown of the most frequently asked questions about breathing in a yoga class to help set you up for success.
Why does the instructor commonly remind us to check in with our breath?
Since we naturally breathe unconsciously, bringing a sense of consciousness to the breath can be trickier than it sounds. Once you get the hang of it, it becomes a very calming and meditative process – which is why the instructor will remind you to do so. This means pay attention to your inhales and exhales. This will help clear your mind of everything you have to do after class. It brings you into the current moment and allows you to slow down. It will also help you slow down your movements.
What is ujjayi breath, and why is it significant?
In beginner classes, you’ll hear the instructor refer to the “ujjayi” breath every so often. She’ll instruct you to “slightly constrict the back of your throat,” so you create some friction in your breath. This turns up the volume of your breath. This type of breathing starts to stimulate internal heat in the body, but most importantly, it’s slightly noisy, which provides a healthy distraction for your mind. When you can hear your breath, you’re paying attention to it.
When the instructor says to “send my breath into my hips” or another area of my body – what is she talking about?
This statement may sound lofty when you hear it for the first time, especially if you’re in a deep stretch like half-pigeon pose in your very first class! When the instructor says this, she’s encouraging you to actively turn your attention to that part of your body that’s resisting the stretch, in this case, half-pigeon, and breathe, with your thoughts and awareness on your hips. The idea is, by “sending your breath into your hips,” that extra energy will help you relax and allow your stretch to go a bit deeper.
The most important thing to remember about breathing in a yoga class is simply paying attention to it. Chances are you’ll leave class calmer and more rejuvenated than you were going into it.
GATC’s Yoga program offers 8 different styles of yoga as well as 15 hot classes every week, so there is sure to be one suited for you!
Marda Zechiel, GATC Yoga Manager