How To Breathe Like A Yogi

Tonight was my first Tech Session, and the topic was “Leading 3-Part Breath and Pranayama”.   Basically, a “three-part breath” is one that starts way down in the abdomen, then moves through the ribcage, and reaches to the very top of the lungs [inhale] – then rolls down the lungs, past the ribs, and out the abdomen (with a little abdominal “push”/squeeze at the end) [exhale].  While this sounds pretty simple (and, it is), it’s amazing how many people don’t breathe this way.  To see if you do or not, you can give yourself this little “test”: Put one hand on your stomach, and one hand on your clavicle (the space above your breasts [if you’re a woman; if you’re a guy, just visualize that space {and enjoy – *wink*}] and below your collar bone).  Now breathe.  If you are breathing fully, you will feel your belly hand get pushed away from your body when you inhale, and your clavicle hand move up slightly.  On the exhale, your clavicle hand will move down, and your belly hand will come back close to your body.  Go ahead and give it a try, I’ll wait.

Interesting, huh?  I “know” how to breathe in this way – I learned it many years ago in an early yoga class, and I get to re-visit this lesson multiple times through various meditation sessions and settings – and yet, so often I breathe very shallowly, with just the very tippy-top part of my lungs (omitting/neglecting the rib and belly parts of the breath).  So tonight, I not only got to be reminded of this breath once again, but I also got to learn how to teach it – which is a whole other animal entirely.

So, that was the “three-part breath” section of the class; we then spent a little bit of time discussing “Pranayama”.  Pranayama basically means “breath control” (“prana” = “life force”, which is breath; “yama” = “restraint”, or control [which I discussed in a little more detail in this post]).  In tonight’s class, the style of pranayama/breath control we learned about is called “Ujjayi breath” – which I learned about and had already been practicing quite a bit in my favorite yoga teacher’s class!

For me, this was a great first tech session to attend: the content felt familiar, so I had some comfort level in the class; but the instructor still offered a  lot of new information, so I got to stretch my mind and learn new things, too.  I also got to practice-teach a brief (5 min) segment of yoga instruction for the first time ever – and it felt really, really good.  I’ll admit, it was a little complex (there are lots of technical items to remember and attempt to recite fluidly, and we don’t have the option of using written notes as a “crutch”), but it also felt very natural to me.  (Granted, I have been a professional trainer in a multi-billion-dollar business for the past 10 years – I damn well BETTER be feeling comfortable and “natural” in an instructional environment!)  I settled in to the teaching almost immediately, relaxed with it, and “remembered” that this is all supposed to be enjoyable and fun.  And it was.  : )

Finally, here is the parting quote from tonight’s session: “If you change your breath, you will change your thoughts.  If you change your thoughts, you will change your life.”

What a wonderful first tech session!



About Stef

A "serious" gal who is trying to remember to lighten up and smile.
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One Response to How To Breathe Like A Yogi

  1. Asha says:

    Love the quote at the end. OHHHH we have lots to discuss on thursday…im interested what guidelines they gave you guys for your first practice teach and what kind of ques they offer you. yogi nerds!

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