Breathing isn’t something that many people give a great deal of thought to unless they have trouble catching their breath, Daniele Jarman of Sarasota explains. As an autonomic process, the breath occurs whether we concentrate on it or not — which is a darn good thing! When you being to practice yoga, however, you will soon find that the breath, or pranayama, is every bit as important as the poses, or asanas, themselves. In fact, many yogis consider pranayama to be the pinnacle of a yoga practice.
Teacher Danielle Jarman of Sarasota says that it’s not uncommon for beginners to feel overwhelmed by or even confused about yoga’s obsessive focus on the breath. Knowing a bit about why it’s so important can help you go with the flow! Today we’re taking a look at the benefits of good breath hygiene.
In With the Good…
You already know that if you’re upset, taking a moment to slow your breath can result in lowered heart rate and blood pressure — and ultimately, a cooler head. But there are even more science-backed benefits to controlled breathing techniques, according to Daniele Jarman of Sarasota.
Regular breath exercises can lead to better lung health, improved metabolism, and an increase in cardiovascular stamina. A study out of Harvard University described a link between breathwork and the suppression of genetic pathways related to inflammation.
Deep breathing increases the level of oxygen in your blood, giving you a boost of energy, says Danielle Jarman of Sarasota. Better concentration and a renewed clearness of mind are two other benefits of focused, mindful breathing.
…Out with the Bad
According to a paper published in the medical journal Cognition & Emotion, controlling our inhalations and exhalations can mean a 40% reduction in negative emotions such as anger, fear, and sadness. That’s not too shabby!
Lastly, there is even evidence that breathwork can affect levels of leptin in the body. What’s leptin and why should you care about its levels? Leptin is a hormone that signals the inhibition of hunger by the brain. Proper breathing can also boost the body’s ability to burn fat. In other words, if you master your breath, you could actually lose weight.
When it comes to your breathing during a yoga class, Daniele Jarman of Sarasota says, all you really need to do at the beginning is to follow the teacher’s instructions. She or he will let you know when to inhale, whether to hold the breath for a moment, and when to exhale. Marrying the breath with your body’s movement can help you get into a pose and perform it better, prevent injury, and improve your overall experience of the practice.
As you move deeper into your exploration of yoga, you may be asked to learn certain specific types of breathwork, such as ujayii breathing, breath of fire or skull-shining breath, and alternate nostril breathing. For now, says Danielle Jarman of Sarasota, simply focusing on steady, deep breaths will be enough to help you as you begin to explore your yoga practice. Namaste!
What comes to mind when you hear the word “yoga”? Do you picture an elderly Indian man with a magnificent beard, meditating cross-legged on a cushion? Or do you think of slim suburban moms clad in stylish athleisure wear, stopping on their way home for an expensive smoothie or green juice? While these two stereotypes have their origin in reality, the truth is that yoga is for everybody, and for every body. Yoga instructor Daniele Jarman of Sarasota wants to dispel some of the myths and misinformation that may lead people to believe otherwise!
Myth: You have to be flexible to do yoga.
Fact: Sure, there are some poses that require incredible flexibility, but remember that the YouTube yogis or teachers at your local studio have practiced for years, if not decades, to achieve the ability to twist themselves into a pretzel. And there are plenty of poses that are accessible to beginners.
In fact, says Danielle Jarman, yoga can be incredibly helpful for improving one’s flexibility. Stretching the muscles mindfully and paying attention to how your body moves through space will lead to all sorts of benefits, flexibility among them.
Myth: You have to be skinny to do yoga.
Fact: Not at all! There are plenty of curvy women and bigger men who can, and do, practice yoga. Everyone has limitations, and a good yoga teacher, like Danielle Jarman of Sarasota, will help every student to do the best they can in spite of those limitations. They do this by steering their students toward modified poses when necessary and showing them how to focus on the sensation their body feels rather than its shape or silhouette.
Myth: There’s a lot of chanting and gongs and affirmation and incense and other hippie stuff.
Fact: Some folks find that creating a certain ambiance in the space where they practice complements and augments their experience of practicing yoga. But that’s absolutely not necessary; in order to practice yoga, you don’t have to do anything else besides practice yoga. If you don’t care for the atmosphere at a yoga studio, find another one or practice at home, where you can create your perfect space, no bells or prayer flags necessary.
Myth: Yoga belongs to a particular religion, and therefore Christians should not practice it.
Fact: This one isn’t exactly a “fact” per se, since the concept of religion is so very subjective and personal.
Everyone who considers getting into yoga will have to make up their own mind about it. But we can tell you that it’s quite possible to remove the religious aspect from the physical. Although yoga has its roots in Hinduism and is practiced by many Hindus and Buddhists around the globe, it is also practiced by Christians, Jews, atheists, even adherents to Pastafarianism who worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Daniele Jarman of Sarasota wants to remind you that yoga isn’t about worshipping a deity outside of ourselves. It’s about inner exploration.
Myth: It’s expensive to practice yoga, with all those fancy mats, blocks, bolsters, and clothing.
Fact: While it’s certainly possible to spend a sizeable chunk of change on pricey leggings and tank tops, yoga mats that run $100 and up, and oodles of accessories, none of that is necessary. You can practice in shorts and a t-shirt, in your pajamas, or in nothing at all (if you’re at home, that is!). Instead of a mat, use a beach towel or a carpet or the grass in your backyard. After all, yoga is an ancient tradition and yogis have been practicing their pranayamas and vinyasas for centuries without the benefit of high-performance clothing or slip-resistant mats.
We hope you’ve learned a little more about yoga by reading this post by Danielle Jarman of Sarasota, and that you are inspired to try yoga for yourself! Yoga isn’t the mystical, magical, exclusive club that some folks make it out to be. Rather, it’s a wonderful way to exercise and expand your body, breath, heart, and mind.
A no-equipment needed exercise; a meditative ritual; a form of self-care; a method of aligning body, spirit, and mind; a challenge undertaken to develop discipline, a conduit to spiritual growth: the practice of yoga is all this and more. Yet newcomers to yoga can often be overwhelmed by the wide variety of styles that are offered at their gym or in local studios. What do all those Sanskrit words mean? What’s the difference between one kind of yoga and another? Which are beginner-friendly?
We asked yoga instructor Daniele Jarman of Sarasota to explain the types of yoga that you’re most likely to encounter as someone who is just starting out. This article focuses on five popular styles; next time, we’ll take a look at several more.
Hatha is something of an umbrella term, Danielle Jarman of Sarasota says. It describes any yoga type that teaches physical postures and is therefore somewhat vague. If you attend an Intro to Hatha Yoga class, you can expect a beginner-friendly session that relies on very basic poses. It probably won’t get your heart pumping, but it may challenge your balance, stamina, and flexibility. Hatha yoga practices usually end with savasana, or corpse pose, one of the most restorative and restful poses, and that feeling of relaxation will stay with you for a while.
Vinyasa and Ashtanga
These two styles of yoga are very similar. Both focus on asana, or postures, but in practice they are very different. According to Danielle Jarman of Sarasota, ashtanga refers to the eight limbs of yoga as described in the Yoga Sutras. Considered guidelines for living a meaningful and purposeful life, these eight limbs are:
– Yama—ethical standards and sense of integrity
– Niyama—self-discipline and spirituality
– Pranayama—breath control
– Pratyahara—sensory transcendence
– Dhyana—meditation or contemplation
In Ashtanga, the same traditional sequence of poses is performed in order, with no variance allowed. Daniele Jarman of Sarasota understands from personal experience how demanding a style of yoga it is, both physically and mentally.
Vinyasa relies on some of the same poses, and often is similarly intense, but does not emphasize the strict order in the same way that Ashtanga does. It asks that practitioners link their breath to their movement in a smooth, fluid fashion. Vinyasa teachers often play music in the background, although of course, every teacher is different.
Bikram and Hot Yoga
Danielle Jarman tells us that Bikram yoga was developed by a teacher named Bikram Choudhury, who held his classes in rooms heated to 105 degrees and with 40 percent humidity. The sweat that ensues from working one’s way through 26 poses, always in the same order, is intended to be purifying and clarifying. In addition, Bikram classes incorporate two breathing exercises and last for precisely 90 minutes.
Hot yoga is similar but less stringent. The rooms where hot yoga classes are held are usually only between 80 and 100 degrees, with varying humidity levels. Hot yoga teachers lead their students through any sequences or individual poses they wish. Unlike in Bikram classes, it’s usually permissible to interact, talk, and play music during hot yoga.
Join us next time, when Daniele Jarman of Sarasota will guide beginner yogis through an overview of several more popular yoga styles. In the meantime, namaste!