yoga And the Breath

Whether you want to reduce joint pain or learn to twist yourself into a pretzel, yoga is the answer—no minimum level of flexibility or fitness required. The first step is to just breathe.

Steady, centered breathing is the foundation of yoga. By breathing deeply and fully, you relax your body and oxygenate your muscles. Start by noticing how you “automatically” breathe and how you can improve. With patience and practice, you can learn how to breathe with purpose and deepen your yoga practice.

Once you’ve done breathing exercises, start using basic yoga postures. These poses release tightness in your muscles, reduce stress, improve flexibility, and help build strength so your body is properly supported. And don’t feel pressure to do a tough pose right away! There are dozens of yoga positions to choose from, so if one seems too hard, it’s okay to find something else. As you continue practicing yoga, you’ll find you are able to try new poses as your muscles release.

Breathing and movement train your body for the third component of yoga: meditation. If you can control your breath and move your body fluidly, then it will be easier for you to sit in meditation. Many yoga classes only emphasize the breathing and movement elements of yoga, but the purpose of yoga is to prepare the body and mind for meditation. Meditation has been scientifically proven to improve concentration, reduce tension, lower anxiety, and preserve the brain.

Yoga translates as “yoke” or “union” describing the integration of mind and body.