Importance of focusing on your Breath:
As you lay on your mat, introducing yourself to the first breaths of the evening’s yoga session, you’ll often overhear the instructor guiding your breaths. During this introductory portion of the class, the focus is on stabilizing your mind and your thoughts, focusing on your breaths and your energies. With the gentle voice guiding you, you’re able to enter a centered state, prepared to begin your yoga session.
The instructor will often say something to the effect of, “Breathe in slowly from your mouth, following your breath as it makes its way through your body, down to your feet. Feel your breath and your body in synchrony, growing a root to the mat and the earth beneath you.”
Every focused breath calms the body and brings the mind to a present moment.
This process is meant to strengthen not only your mind and focus, but to also establish balance in your root chakra. The root chakra is the first one in your body, at the base of the spine, and it’s the core of your connection to the physical body and the Earth beneath you (hence, the root).
Yoga Movements in sync with your Breath:
The importance can’t be overstated with yoga – match every breath with your movement and pose.
The process of breathing, in and of itself, is a complex one. Inhalation and exhalation are parts of physiological respiration. Breathing properly during exercise ensures that your working muscles receive the oxygen that they need in order to keep contracting.
There are several poses in yoga which are meant specifically to establish this sort of root. Mountain Pose and Tree Pose, for example, do exactly that. As you stand firmly on the mat, with your feet practically cemented to the earth, you’re able to feel the ground beneath you.
Simply “standing” in a single place may seem easy and meaningless to some, but it’s far from that. This sort of pose establishes a great mind-body focus. Moreover, maintaining this sort of firm root in your feet while at the same time having loose, relaxed limbs above the waist takes practice. It’s a bit of juxtaposition – the energy and weight in your upper body relaxed, balanced, with your lower body and feet firmly connected to the mat.
Enhancing your Yoga experience with Breath Awareness:
Indeed, the only way you’ll get this pose is through your breath. Every aspect of yoga – every pose, movement and position is only enhanced through your breath. Standing strong, breathe in through your nose. Feel as the breath slowly makes its way down to your toes, strengthening your stance and feet. Breathe out through your mouth, allowing for this exchange of energy between top and bottom to flow effortlessly.
As the class winds down to a close, you often find yourself stabilizing, balancing and revisiting basic poses. Savasana and Child’s Pose are some favorites. During these poses, the class comes full circle. Just as you focused on centering your thoughts, energy and breaths at the beginning of the class, the end of the class brings the same. It’s a moment of clarity and relaxation, as simpler postures bring you to a simpler time of relaxation, where breath is in harmony with body.
Benefits of Earthing
When you’re outside, these sorts of poses and breaths are that much more potent. Without a yoga mat, you’re able to tangibly connect the earth’s surface with your bare feet. Except this time, when you’re connected, the benefits are more than a metaphorical root – there’s an energy exchange actually happening. Studies suggest that this concept of Earthing, or being in direct contact with the Earth’s surface, may be beneficial to your health.
As you stand on the surface, breathe in and feel that connection. Your body is absorbing the earth’s limitless supply of free electrons and, in turn, neutralizing harmful free radicals. You may not be able to see it, but your yoga practice will feel that much better when you’re outside.
To learn more about the concept of Earthing, connecting your root to the Earth’s surface and the energy exchange that occurs, check out this Earthing eBook.