the laid.back Buddhist has MOVED...back!

Friday, September 21

To Breathe Again

Learning yoga is like learning to breathe. Literally.

"Ideas in the mind should be material for thought, not merely ideas, just as muscles are useful means of action, not mere lumps of flesh."
- Patanjali's Raja Yoga

...just as the yoga positions are to help you breathe better in everyday life, and not merely to complement the breathing aspect of yoga.

It's a concept that took a while for me to fully appreciate.

When I first started out doing yoga, I was all caught up in getting the positions right and focused solely on coaxing my body into a deeper stretch--the thought that breathing could help me do it better never crossed my mind! I took the breathing process for granted, and the "in, out" cues from my yoga teachers were generally completely ignored.

See, I had yet to realize that there is something really very calming and breathtakingly...beautiful to feel your body move in sync with your breathing cycle.

To have all that energy, all that focus on just one thing only. Your mind on your body.

It's like meditation in motion.

18 Musing(s):

Coyotemike said...

I think I've experianced a bit of that. I've tried to take a few tai chi classes, and I noticed, in the middle of motion, I would wake up from some sort of semi-conscious state. I'd kind of fall into a meditation without trying . . . until the teacher would introduce a new movement :P

I've tried to do more at home, from a dvd, but I can't quite seem to keep up. But I'll keep trying.

david said...

Yoga sounds like a lot of fun. I need to try it out sometimes.

conan_cat said...

ahh yoga is never easy... i used to go to yogas too, until i found that my legs really cannot cope up (yeah, that chinese doctor thingy twisting my legs lol) so i stopped going for a while. but yoga is really, really good for both body and mind. there's this yoga instructor who would chant every time class over and she would ask us to chant with her too. really soothing. :)

dnordstrom said...

Sounds great, really. But I've got my gym workouts, that's what I do to achieve mental balance.

It's like you say, to have all that energy and focus on one thing, it's fantastic. In my case, I focus my entire mind on a single muscle or muscle group. It's insanely refreshing for your body as well as your mind.

I don't expect "ordinary" people to understand the whole mental part of fitness. It takes a while learn the art of physical training and even more time to fully appreciate and embrace it. It's amazing how in midst of all pain and sweat, one finds true inner beauty and balance.

Much like yoga, I suppose.

dnordstrom said...

By the way, I actually wrote a post about it eight months ago, just a few weeks after creating my blog. Here it is:

dcr said...

Do you breathe in through the nose or mouth? Clearly, if you're doing the Om or a chant of some kind, you're exhaling through the mouth, but how do you inhale, or does it matter?

If I remember right, singers breathe in through the mouth, partly to avoid any undesired noises from the nostrils. And, there is the Native American technique of inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. Whereas most people breathe in and out through the nose, except for those with sinus problems that tend to breathe in and out through the mouth.

Of course, I think it's preferable to inhale through the nose, as the nose is designed to help clean incoming air.

raqqash said...

To me the revelation came from Tai Chi Chuan.
I practiced TaeKwonDo first, and then Wu-Shu, but after the first Tai Chi lesson I went out of the gym like I had just really walked for the first time in my life. It was amazing, and felt really good.
And I'm happy you're experiencing something similar ;)

Rolando said...

Do men take yoga? I wouldn't know.

Doug said...

I miss yoga. It was the sort of thing I always did better as part of a class or club.

You're describing a very real effect -- the ability to deepen a stretch on exhalation.

Joanne said...

Mike: Yeah, I’ve done Tai Chi before. Not an actual class (my dad taught me one summer), and it’s really interesting how slow, concentrated movements can make me break a sweat.

David: When you do, tell me what you think!

Conan: I have to watch out for my right knee (tore it couple a years ago in basketball), but as long as I pay attention to my body cues, I think it’s helped strengthen the old injury.

Daniel: I actually workout/run for 30 minutes before my yoga classes to get my circulation pumping. I’ve found that when my muscles are warmed up beforehand separately, I get more out of the stretches.

Dan: Nose—on the inhale, your stomach is supposed to expand while on the exhale, your stomach pulls in. It’s the same breathing used for Tai Chi. Although, when I’m struggling with the “yoga push-up” breathing just collapses with me into a heap on the mat.

Raqqash: I love Tai Chi Chuan!!!! It’s so beautiful, just like WuShu and TaeKwonDo. My dad taught me Tai Chi a few years back—truly another type strength altogether to be able to do the movements so slowly. I did fencing for 4 years and as much as I enjoyed it, I have to admit that the eastern martial arts are so much better.

Rolando: Yup, they definitely do! There’s even a good number of male yoga instructors out there. Plus, some of the positions use a lot of arm strength, which guys are naturally better at.

Doug: Yeah, I need to keep up with an actual yoga class…for some reason, my body doesn’t feel as sore or stretched when I do it on my own, haha.

Raqqash said...

Yeah Tai Chi Chuan was top-class for me: meditation in motion, like you say, and concentration, and martial art all at the same time. But my master left the city and there are no other worthy masters.
Now I'm practicing Wing Chun and I love it. It is great. You have to shut down your mind to practice, and listen only to your body and the instinctive part. And it is so full of things it is impossible to get bored.
Eastern martial arts are great, they are like dancing for me. Body consciousness and relax with the added bonus of concentration. ;)

Joanne said...

Raqqash: Whoa, I've never heard of Wing Chun before, so I did some research (read: googled it) and found it to be really cool! =) Haha, I'll have to ask my dad what he knows about this...

cooper said...

I haven't done Yoga since I graduated, but did it routinely for the two middle years of college. It is something to consider now that I am settling and not in grad school until at least January. I always felt calmer and in a better place when doing Yoga.

Joanne said...

Cooper: Same here, haha. I think I could easily turn this whole yoga thing into a life-long thing. =) said...

I still love the way yoga quiets my mind. All that buzzing finally goes least for a little while. Well said--it IS meditation in motion!

Joanne said...

Nola: Thanks! And, it's really interesting how it quiets and re-energizes my mind, you know? =)

Erina Hart said...

I keep wanting to take your advice and join the yoga program at my gym. This post makes me want to do so even more.

Joanne said...

Erina: Hahaha, yeah I think you'd really appreciate yoga.

Winston Churchill