The essence of yoga is tuning in to the inner world and feeling the subtle cues that contain a wealth of information. Through relaxation and breathing exercises, you can develop improved focus and concentration and increase the sense of ease within your body that can help improve form.
A regular breathing practice also will help to deepen your mind-body connection, condition your breathing muscles, improve oxygenation to the brain and other vital organs and help you relax.
Below is a breathing exercise that can have enormous benefits, aim to do this 3-4 times per week:
• Make sure that you will be uninterrupted and undistracted for about 10 minutes, and choose the time of day that you will feel most at ease
• Set a timer for 10 minutes and choose an alarm with a pleasing delicate sound that won’t startle you (consider downloading the Insight Timer app, which has a free version that includes ambient sound and gentle alarm bells and allows you to track your progress)
• Find a comfortable position either sitting in a cross-legged position or lying on your mat
• Begin to lengthen your breath on the exhale, without straining
• Count your breath on the inhale and exhale, making sure that your exhale is longer than your inhale
• Focus your thoughts on your breathing and if other thoughts pop up, acknowledge them and let them go (you can try to visualize these thoughts as clouds that are passing by)
• Feel your body relax even deeper with each breath
• When the timer sounds, gently and slowly come out of your deep relaxation state and ease back into your day
This practice not only helps to improve ease in the body, but it strengthens inner awareness that is critical for a stronger mind-body connection.