Have you taken the time to breathe consciously today?
Our culture is so built around success and productivity that sometimes it can be easy to forget to just breathe. We have a tendency to overwork ourselves, which is not good for the results of our productive efforts.
Practicing yoga can help soothe the nervous system, in turn allowing us to feel more relaxed and less stressed out. This helps us to clear our minds and focus on the task at hand, and maybe even see it in a new light.
Each yoga pose, according to Symmetry Physical Therapy, can calm your nervous system. “When poses are practiced in a sequence, their cumulative effect results in a decrease in the activity of our ‘fight or flight’ nervous system, resulting in less stress and anxiety,” their article explains.
And it is not just the poses in your vinyasa flow, or other types of practices, that soothe the nervous system. Another way that yoga relaxes you is through ‘pranayama,’ or breathing techniques. If you have ever been to a yoga class, you probably have heard the instructor emphasize the importance of deep and intentional breathing. This is because it is essential in a yoga practice.
Adjunct Instructor and experienced Registered Yoga Teacher, Brett Haginas, believes that it is just as “crucial to prioritize the yogic practices that keep us grounded as we prioritize our productivity and successes.”
We must face the fact that in the United States, we live in a culture that defines success by how much we produce. Any working person knows that it can often feel like you’re in constant competition. However, we cannot be our most productive and creative selves if on the inside we feel like we are crumbling.
Haginas offers some helpful tips that we can utilize to avoid that crumbling feeling: “For anyone looking to incorporate more yoga or mindfulness into their already busy lives, I would advise you to start small,” she says. “Choose a short practice like journaling, deep breathing, dancing around your kitchen, meditation, or anything else that sounds appealing to you. This practice should bring you joy and disconnect you from external stressors, such as your phone, work, emails, etc. Make this short practice a non-negotiable in your daily schedule!”
If you are craving something physically challenging, try a vinyasa or power yoga class. If you are craving something more gentle and calming, try a restorative or meditation class. To anyone new to yoga, dabble in different class styles until you find something that resonates with you.
“The most common misconception about yoga is that it is just for skinny, flexible people who own expensive yoga mats and drink green juice,” Haginas said. “Yoga is an eight-limbed path consisting of ethical codes, physical poses, breathwork, meditation, sensory withdrawal, and self reflection. While you certainly can be a green-juice-loving, Lululemon-wearing yogi, that is not the only way to practice yoga. You can also be a devoted yogi by reading the Bhagavad Gita, doing breathwork practices, or living a life of radical empathy and compassion.”
If you are not sure where to start in your yoga and mindfulness practice, some of my personal favorites are short morning meditation videos by Lavendaire on Youtube, Yoga with Adrienne on Youtube, and Sleepcove: a Sleep Podcast on Spotify and other platforms.