Yoga, Meditation, and Breath

Tiffany Lord, corporate yoga coach and the founder of Love + Asana, is here to answer more of your burning questions about the art and practice of yoga.

Why do we hold the poses for so long? Sometimes I feel like I can’t stay in it.

There are several reasons why an instructor may invite you to stay in a yoga posture for a “long” time!

It may be beneficial to stay in the posture for several rounds of breath to build strength in the muscles used for that pose. It’s also common to “blueprint” a posture in flowing classes by staying in it for a few rounds of breath to find an alignment that feels good in your body. This way, you can easily access that alignment again when flowing more quickly between postures.

There is also a style of yoga called Yin, which allows you to affect the deeper connective tissue layers as you hold a pose for several minutes. This can release patterns of unhelpful tension and improve mobility.

Regardless, always listen to your body and feel free to come out of a pose whenever you need to.

Are meditation apps a good way to start on a meditation journey?

I love meditation apps! They are easily accessible, and you can practice anytime in your schedule.

Find an app that has shorter meditations to start, then increase the length from there. It’s also nice to use an app that has multiple styles of meditation — mantras, guided visualizations, and so on — so you can try each to find what feels most helpful to you.

Here a few of my favorite beginner tips: Choose a time of day that makes sense for your schedule and doesn’t feel forced. Focus on the frequency of meditating, not the duration. A quick meditation every day to shift your mindset to positivity and focus can be more helpful than one 30-minute meditation each week. Remember that meditation is about giving yourself a break from worry and stress, so you can recharge and engage in your life with compassion and joy!

Why do some yoga classes have us move with the breath?

The breath is a powerful tool to help cultivate awareness in our body and mind, as well as to break the stress response.

You can use the breath to become more present and focused. With slow and steady breathing, you can tune in to what you feel in each pose, being mindful as you move from one posture to the next. During a flow or Sun Salutation, the inhales can create space as we open up or lengthen (stand tall); exhales can help you relax deeper or turn inward (folding). When the movements are done slowly with breath, you can calm your nervous system for a more soothing effect. If you flow quickly while staying connected to a lengthened breath, this will increase heat in the body for more of a workout sensation.

Connect with your breath during your next yoga session and notice how moving meditation feels!

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