breathing

  • Seeds of Intent: Breathe Through It

    "The only way out is through The only way we'll feel better The only way out is through ultimately” ~Alanis Morissette

    Breathe Through it

    Stuff's gonna go down. Stuff's gonna get messy. You can attempt to work around it or avoid it. You can try to bottle it up. You can play the denial card. You can alter your state of mind to temporarily subdue or numb it. You can try whatever futile escape mechanism you wish, but ultimately the only way out of a mess is through it.

    You gotta go through the motions and emotions to come out on the other side. Whether it’s a painful breakup or a brewing breakdown, you have to go through it to really deal with it and get over it. Fortunately, while you’re navigating your way through a mess there’s something you always have with you to help you better deal: Your breath.

    Your breath is your internal tool of power. In the practice of yoga, the breath is considered a mantra or a vehicle of the mind. The very simple act of tuning into your breath – observing the inhales and the exhales – can transport you from negativity, frustration, anger, freakouts, sadness, loneliness, depression, etc. Whatever you’re going through, the breath has the power to quiet, calm, and mend.

    You don’t need wine and the accompanying hangover. You don’t need ice cream and the accompanying food baby and/or sugar-induced coma. You don’t need to go for a long deranged run, scaring everyone with your crazy eyes. You don’t need any of these extreme measures to get through it. All you need is what you have with you always: Your breath.

    Work troubles? Breathe through it. Family frustrations? Breathe through it. A lover’s quarrel? Breathe through it. Sickness or injury? Breathe through it. Whatever it is. Breathe through it. Consciously breathe through it. If you practice this, you will feel better. You will ultimately get through it with greater ease.

    The only way out is through, yogis. The way is in the breath.

    To practice breathing exercises and techniques, tune into these free online yoga videos.

  • Good Vibes: 10 Sayings on the Breath

    Take a moment…

    Begin by tuning into your breath, observing the inhales and the exhales. Use the breath as a mantra - as a concentration tool - to release the thinking mind. Less thinking, more breathing. Connect deeply with your breath – your internal metronome – to set the rhythm for your day or your practice like a drum player would set the rhythm for a band. Slow down the rhythm. Lengthen out the beats. Connect the beats seamlessly and effortlessly. Establish a sweet, flowing breath.

    prana

    The breath weaves together the practice. It is a mental vehicle, transporting the mind from stress, anger, tension, frustration, thoughts, and distractions into a realm a peace. Without conscious breathing, yoga is just a bunch of silly, disconnected shapes. With it, the asana practice flows like a dance – like a moving meditation. Think about that drum player setting the rhythm for a band. Without a rhythm section, the instruments would struggle to synchronize. The music would sound broken. The breath is your drum player. The asanas are the musicians. You need the breath to realize harmony and wholeness not only in the yoga practice, but also in life.

    1. "All things share the same breath - the beast, the tree, the man... the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports." ~Chief Seattle

    2. "When I look back on my knee-jerk reactions now, I realize I should have just taken a breath." ~Fred Durst

    3. "Conscious breath control is a useful tool for achieving a relaxed, clear state of mind." ~Andrew Weil

    4. "Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts." ~Thich Nhat Hanh

    5. "I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart: I am, I am, I am." ~Sylvia Plath

    6. "There is one way of breathing that is shameful and constricted. Then, there’s another way: a breath of love that takes you all the way to infinity." ~Rumi

    7. "The breath must be enticed or cajoled, like catching a horse in a field, not by chasing after it, but by standing still with an apple in one’s hand." ~B.K.S. Iyengar

    8. "A lifetime is not what is between the moments of birth and death.A lifetime is one moment Between my two little breaths. The present, the here, the now, That's all the life I get. I live each moment in full, In kindness, in peace, without regret." ~Chade Meng

    9. "Breath is Spirit. The act of breathing is Living." ~Unknown

    10. "The practice is simply this: keep coming back to your breath during the day. Just take a moment. This will give your mind a steadiness and your breath a gracefulness.... There's so much to let go of, isn't there? Your nostalgia and your regrets. Your fantasies and your fears. What you think you want instead of what is happening right now. Breathe." ~Rodney Yee

    To practice controlling your breath, check out our selection of free online pranayama videos.

  • 5 Ways to Let Go

    releasing expectation

    If there’s one thing yoga has drilled into me time and time again it is this: Release expectation. People and situations will disappoint you. Some individuals will get off on seeing you wounded, flailing, or failing. These people will be strangers, mentors, and sometimes, they will even be those with whom you've deeply entrusted your friendship. It doesn’t matter. In the larger scheme of things, it’s not really about these people. Let them do as they will. Let them think what they wish. If you really know yourself, you have all the tools you need to take these punches and to freakin’ take them with grace. And after you take the heat, all you can do is let it go. Then, you put up a fight for the things in life that truly matter. You do you and you do it well. And you never, EVER let them see you sweat (off the mat, of course).

    Yes, this is easier said than done.

    Yes, this takes practice.

    Yes, this requires you choose to perceive this all as ultimately positive.

    How do you do that? What can you do to rebound from disappointment or pain? What can you do when people dish out these emotional punches or stings? How do you avoid letting your anger intervene? How do you confront the situation with grace? How do you let it go?

    1. Breathe. First and foremost, breathe. Practice pranayama. Breath of Fire is a powerful tool to expel overwhelming thoughts and any underlying anxieties you are feeling.
    2. Consider this a message. The universe, whether you realize it or not, is incredibly intelligent. If you have up to this point led with integrity and done your best to bring positive, clean energy into all of your experiences, the universe is most likely looking out for you here. Maybe this unfortunate event is simply a door closing to open a new one. Instead of mourning this loss, consider the new opportunities that are now awake. What will this situation open up for you?
    3. Control your reaction. This, at the end of the day, is the only thing you can count on: Your reaction in the face of a problem. Choose a reaction that you won’t look back on and regret. Choose the higher path. Choose rationality, calm, and discretion. Choose wisely in the emotions you reveal. Choose to view this “bad” situation as a "good" one in disguise. Choose to dwell in possibility, not negativity.
    4. Concentrate on your most important relationship: The one you have with yourself. This should be your priority. Observe how you are responding in the face of these punches. How are these stimuli influencing you? Watch yourself. Be an observer on your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and actions. All of this will create space between you and whatever is going on. A good way to take this watchfulness approach is to meditate. Meditation reveals all of the garbage. Gradually, it allows you to empty out the mental trash and rid yourself of things that are an incredible waste of your energy and space.
    5. Forgive. Don’t give this person or situation any more power over you than they are worth. Forgiveness is powerful because it releases the toxic energy that you share with this person or situation. Holding onto anger and other feelings and emotions will just add flame to the fire. It gives this person or thing great power over you and your thoughts whether you recognize it or not. Forgive it to free it.

    Letting s**t go is tough, yet it is well within your power. You have the power to allow what will and will not get to you. You have the power to open new doors. You have the power to view bad situations as opportunities. Don’t let the bad and the ugly saturate your experience and detract from all of the good. Because the bad and the ugly happen for a reason. If you can stop obsessing over it and consider it all a blessing in disguise, you will be in a place of security and strength. You will come out on top and that much stronger.

    Let it go. Let it all go.

    ~Tess

  • Practice Tips: Do More of This & Less of That

    yoga at home

    Sometimes yogis, you gotta turn the tables and commit to doing more of one thing and less of another. Inspired by Chris McCombs, I have sequenced together a less-of-this and more-of-that list as it pertains to the yoga practice.

    •  Less theory, more practice. “Yoga is 99% practice, 1% theory.” ~Sri K. Pattabhi Joyce
    • Less perfection, more progress.
    • Less hesitancy, more pushing into your fears.
    • Less attachment to the outcome, more acceptance of the NOW.
    • Less laziness, more taking it to the mat.
    • Less forcing, more flowing.
    • Less stress, more breathing through it.
    • Less thinking, more breathing.
    • Less mulling over thoughts, more mantra.
    • Less mental body, more intuitive body. Bottom-line: Listen to your gut.
    • Less comfort, more change. Don’t get stuck in the trap of security. Live on the edge. Face your fears. Confront challenges. This is where the magic happens! This is really living!
    • Less poker face, more smiles.
    • Less seriousness, more play! It’s simply yoga. Don’t take yourself and the practice so seriously.
    • Less conforming, more doing you! It’s YOUR practice, so do you. Sing your song. Dance your dance.
    • Less clutter, more space. When you de-clutter your life (mentally and physically), you have more space to receive. Toss out the garbage and the unessential.
    • Less comparison, more self-acceptance. Don’t envy the practice of another yogi. By all means, use it as inspiration for your own practice. Don’t, however, get so caught up in wanting your practice to mirror another. This is YOUR practice. Accept it as it is: perfectly imperfect.
    • Less future and less past, more present.
    • Less mental disturbances, more meditation. Meditation is the BEST medication.
    • Less distraction, more drishti. Each pose has a drishti point – a place to direct your gaze. When distractions arise - when your eyes start circling around the room or thoughts start streaming in - remind yourself to direct your focus to that drishti point.
    • Less force, more fluidity. Sometimes when I practice, I imagine myself creating the movements in water. Strength is definitely a huge component of the practice and so is steadiness. The intent is to strike a sweet balance between effort and ease.
    • Less ego, more humility.
    • Less playing it safe, more falling. Falling is a part of this journey. Mistakes are a part of this journey. Scars are a part of this journey. All of this allows you to learn and grow.
    • Less sitting around and thinking about it, more bold action.
    • Less controlling, more letting go.
    • Less catastrophizing, more opportunity-izing. Yes, I made up both of those words. The point is, don’t freak out in the midst of chaos. Consider catastrophes as opportunities in disguise. If you can do this, your life and practice will flow with greater ease.
    • Less wanting, more gratitude.
    • Less “What’s in it for me?,” more “How can I help?” One easy way to help is to breathe not only for yourself, but also for the yogi(s) next to you. If you’re practicing yoga at home solo, breathe for all life surrounding you. Create those elevating vibes!
    • Less excuses for not hitting the mat, more yoga at home or on the go with YogaVibes!

    In your practice, what can you minimize? What can you amplify?

    ~Tess

  • On Yoga and Freaking Out

    Here I am sitting on an Amtrak train a day late minus one wallet (stolen or lost…who knows) and all that it contained - credit cards, my license, insurance card, cash, gift cards, and coffee cards (I was so close to a free coffee! Sigh…). Also lost alongside all of this relatively meaningless, material matter is my cool. I lost my cool.

    As a yoga teacher and avid practitioner of yoga, you’d expect that I might have managed this “catastrophe” with a bit more grace. Instead, I totally freaked out. I did about everything that a freaking out person will typically do. I dropped some choice 4-letter words. I frantically paced back and forth. I threw some blame on others and myself. I snapped at those trying to help. I snapped at strangers over the phone as I attempted to sort out my painful mess. I think I did just about everything one can do freaking out short of bursting into tears. What the heck?

    calm Cool and calm...unlike me.

    So, I’m going to cut myself some slack here instead of being thoroughly embarrassed by my freak-tastic behavior. Freaking out happens. As humans, we are inherently (yet beautifully) flawed. Keeping your cool amidst all of the punches life will throw at you is hard work, requiring lots of practice and patience. Clearly, I’m in need more practice and I definitely need to cultivate more patience. Okay Universe, I hear you loud and clear.

    Now that I’m winding down from a surge of agonizing adrenalin, I’m observing my past actions over the last 24 hours. Even at the onset of freaking out, I was highly aware of the irrationality and extremity of my emotional response. I knew that I was overreacting and catastrophizing the situation. I realized that I was allowing a real, yet minor setback to totally overwhelm and consume me. I was aware that I was making my own painful mess. Awareness is the first step, right? I think so. And I think I can thank yoga for keeping me relatively aware despite an initially poor response.

    That heightened awareness triggered some temporary moments of sanity amidst the mania. Mantra came to mind - mantra that I obsessively repeated and repeated until I felt like my head was going to blow off. Be like water. Be like water. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. I was trying to exhaust all of the other distracting, self-defeating thoughts that were being tossed around in my slippery brain. Mantra may have only provided moments of calm, but it was something. At that point, I needed all the calm I could get.

    I also found myself checking in with my breath. It was constrained and erratic. Shocking. Though I did a bad job of it, I tried to establish a regulated breath. After I took care of my biggest concern – my money – I stepped away from the situation to just breathe. From there on out the situation moved with more grace. From there, I experienced a shift.

    Though I royally freaked out, I think I rebounded from the experience fairly reasonably. Sans yoga, I would probably still be dropping 4-letter words and pulling out my hair. I would be so caught up on one silly setback that writing this would have been an impossible feat. Plus, I would have wasted a lot of unnecessary energy – energy that I properly directed to make sure everything was in order so I could get back on track.

    See, this is the sweetness of yoga. The practice never ends. Yoga keeps going be you on the mat or off. Yoga keeps benefiting you be you on the mat or off. Yoga keeps teaching you – teaching you how to breathe through struggle, see the bigger picture, and rebound with some grace. Life will continually hand you struggle. Life will continually test your grace. You will get caught up in your head and miss the big picture. Inevitably, you will freak out. That’s okay. I think what matters in a situation like this is the end result. Do you let it own you or do you take on the “be like water” approach? Do you go with the flow, breathe, and float along on the journey with your cool in tact? Or do you chronically spazz out giving yourself heart palpitations and missing out on all the awesomeness that is still going on around you? I’ll take the former. I got yoga to thank for that. What will you take?

    ~Tess

    P.S. And if you ever need some outside help, turn to these free online yoga videos to find lots of pranayama and meditation goodness to get you back and breathing calm in no time!

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