Our “Secret” to Flow
Why do we focus on breath so much in Flow (besides the fact that it keeps us alive)?
It is said that if you breathe 15 times per minute, you will live to be 75 – 80 years old. If you breathe 10 times per minute you will live to be 100+… the speed at which you breathe will dictate the length of your life. If you breathe fast, your life will be shortened. This is why dogs have short lives.
Ujjayi is the breath we use in our Flow class – this means to maintain a calm, controlled and even breath regardless of whether you’re doing something extremely challenging, or simply sitting still. This type of breath is meant to leave you feeling energized, centered and calm when you leave class. Many of us are so busy focusing on simply keeping up with the pace of a class and trying to figure out which body part goes where, that we forget to pay attention to the flow and our breath. This is part of the reason we don’t play music; the awareness of the breath can often fade into the rhythmic and booming playlist.
When you concentrate on each aspect of the breathing process, you are present; you let go of the past and future and are focused on the moment inside the breath. You activate a different part of your brain—the cerebral cortex—so conscious breathing sends impulses from the cortex to the connected areas that impact emotions. Activating the cerebral cortex has a relaxing and balancing effect on the emotions. If you are going through an experience in life that is emotional or intense, yoga and breath are the perfect combination to help you find a sense of grounding and strength.
In our physical yoga practice, the breath works side by side with our structural alignment. Our natural tendency is to hold our breath or use quick and shallow breathing, which is stress breathing while holding a posture, especially in a challenging one. This creates stress and tension in the body (which is the opposite of why we FLOW!).
The best part about breath is the more we practice it we build our lung capacity and we create a healthy habit of connecting to our body which can help to calm the nervous system and get us more grounded. Your breath is with you in the car pick-up line at your kid’s school, in bumper-to-bumper traffic, in big work meetings, intense conversations with family members and at any time you need it, it’s there to support you… so start to cultivate and practice it in FLOW at 4G now!