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Hey everyone, welcome to Day 1 of the 7 Day Yoga Basics Challenge! I’m super excited to be sharing the mat with you over this coming week.
Whether you are a yogi or non-yogi; an absolute beginner or seasoned practitioner; people who are simply exploring options for exercising or stretching, this challenge is a great way to kickstart (or refresh) your yoga journey.
We will open this challenge by covering the very fundamentals of yoga – the breath.
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Finding Breath and Movement
Many have come to know yoga for its physical benefits, and it is all well and good. At the same time, it is important not to forget that what differentiates yoga from other exercises is the awareness of our breath. Otherwise, yoga will simply be like gymnastics or any other movement activity.
With that in mind, let’s talk about the importance of our breath.
Breathing is essential to a yoga practice. They are channels that help create harmony and balance within the body.
However, did you know that there is a right and wrong way to breathe? Breathing deep and slowly ie. yogic breathing, creates calm and brings many benefits. Irregular breathing, on the other hand, may lead to physical, mental and emotional blockages.
The way we breathe is a true reflection of the state of our mind. For instance, notice how shallow your breath becomes whenever you feel stressed or anxious. Sometimes you may even forget to breathe when you are focusing too hard on a task at hand.
So here’s a question to ask yourself: How often are you consciously aware of your breath throughout the day?
Few of us, myself included, take notice of our breathing 24 / 7.
This is why yoga teachers usually open a class with a reminder to breathe with awareness. Conscious breathing is key to yoga because it helps us to stay present, to connect with the subtle energies within our bodies, and also has a grounding effect on our mental, physical and emotional health.
Conscious breathing can be a meditation on its own simply because it helps us to let go of any other thoughts and focus on the very thing that is keeping us alive – our breath.
If you want to learn more about breath and yoga, here are two useful articles:
Sun Salutations and Breathing
Consciously breathing when you are sitting down is highly different from when you are moving through yoga asanas (or yoga poses).
During asana practice, we try to synchronise our movement with our breath. This takes a great amount of focus and is possibly one of the reasons why we tend to forget all worries when we focus on moving with our breaths. Our brains just cannot handle so many tasks at once!
If you are just starting out your yoga journey, one of the best ways to learn to sync up your asana with your breath is through the Sun Salutation sequences.
This class is therefore based on Sun Salutation A – the most foundational sequence yogis will go through regularly in class – but we will do modified poses and variations to the sequence so that you can focus on your breath rather than on achieving specific poses
Important Yoga Postures in this class
- (Wide knee) Child’s Pose: The go-to resting pose for any yoga class
- Downward Facing Dog: Considered a resting posture, but is an all-rounder that builds strength and flexibility
- Ragdoll: A more accessible version of standing forward fold to decompress the spine
- Sun Salutation A sequence: We perform knees-chest-chin instead of chaturanga, and baby cobra instead of full cobra
- Baddha Konasana: To release the hips gently. This is also called by many other names including Cobbler’s pose, Butterfly pose, Bound Angle pose or Throne’s Pose.
- Seated Forward Fold: Improve flexibility in your hamstrings and stretch out your spine
- Reverse Table Top: An easier variation of reverse plank that helps to open up the front of the body and strengthen the hip flexors
That’s plenty of information for our first day.
Let’s jump right into the class. See you on the mat!
Love & Light,
The YogaMad is founded by Candace, an avid yogini who is passionate about inspiring others to live their best lives while finding mind-body-soul balance. She has a background in business consulting but has left the corporate world in her quest to live out her dreams as a yoga nomad.