Back to the Yoga Basics: Breathing, Asana, Love, Mindfulness & Giving Back

Whether you're a newbie or an experienced yogi, sometimes it's good to go back to the basics:

The Importance of Breathing: The breath is the most important aspect and lays the foundation for any yoga practice. Breathing sustains your body as you move through your practice, and soothes your mind as you sink deeper into more challenging asanas. We must breathe in order to live, but we often neglect to feel the quality and depth of our breath in our daily lives. Yoga focuses on creating a deeper connection with the body, mind and spirit through honoring the breath, the one constant source of life and vitality.

Asana: Asana refers to yogic postures, and in Sanskrit is the word for “seat.” Each asana serves to open and purify energy channels throughout the major centers of the body. They also strengthen the body and help focus the mind on being mentally present in each posture through meditation.

Being Present: When you step onto your mat, you’ve made a decision to dedicate time to being completely present in your yoga practice. Part of doing so requires an ability to be physically, mentally, and emotionally open to receiving and experiencing new sensations that may surface. Letting go of old worries and frustrations that have taken up too much space in your mind is a necessary step to showing up for yourself in your practice. And as you move through each asana, stagnant emotions that once blocked the flexibility in your hip sockets or the expansiveness of your heart, begin to loosen, and gradually release. Being present in each moment creates space and opportunities to grow and discover new ways of being.

Self-Love: Whether it’s your first time or your five-thousandth time on your mat, the choice to commit to practicing yoga reflects a basic desire to take care of yourself. Yoga transforms your body through movement and detoxification, clears your mind as you focus on the quality of your breath, and makes space in your heart to feel any emotions that may arise. You challenge yourself to push boundaries you may have unconsciously placed upon yourself that had limited your ability to move forward and to progress on your path. You allow yourself to take a step back, to give your body a chance to rest and regroup. You discover what works for you and what doesn’t, giving you an opportunity to reflect on your most basic human needs.

Give Back: The beauty of yoga is that once you’ve experienced the love and energy that sustains and revitalizes you, you begin to extend that same compassion outward. Without being able to care for yourself, it’s difficult to be able to care for those around you. Yoga acknowledges the reciprocity and interdependence between oneself and the world at large. The natural progression of one’s yoga practice permeates through other areas of life, and gives rise to the moments and connections in our lives that have made indelible impressions in our hearts.

“Yoga does not remove us from the reality or responsibilities of everyday life but rather places our feet firmly and resolutely in the practical ground of existence. We don’t transcend our lives; we return to the life we left behind in the hopes of something better.” – Donna Farhi

pictured is Sarah McGrath by Robert Sturman

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