Yoga: Breath of Joy
By Lisa Diers, RD, LD, E-RYT, Director of Nutrition and Yoga Services Manager
Today's focus is a popular pose at TEP- Breath of Joy! When I ask our students what they like about the pose I often hear responses like: "It makes me smile", "I feel less stressed after doing it", "I am not as crabby", "It's silly and fun." Well, what's not to love about that?!
A few benefits of Breath of Joy you may experience: Less Stress or anxious feeling, increased circulation in the body, increased energy levels or increased number of smiles.
It is important to modify this pose to best fit your needs in the current moment. Just as you will see in the video, I needed to modify for a shoulder injury. I thought it was important to post the video clip even though I wasn't executing the pose "perfectly" because -- guess what? There is NO PERFECT WAY to do yoga! Humans have different limitations at different times for different reasons. What can feel powerful, however, is when you can honor the messages your body is sending you and move into the pose in the way that makes sense for you! Now, that's real yoga! What's most important is that you are finding a functionality in the pose that helps you. Essentially you could say -- it's about function not about form in this sequence. We say this all the time at TEP -- and we really practice what we preach. It is most important you feel good and stable in the pose and it has little to do with how it looks.
Techniques to consider:
- If you have low blood pressure, are prone to dizziness, have eye or head injuries or forward folding is uncomfortable: Eliminate the forward fold: Keep the arm movements the same with exception of forward folding. Simply invite your hands to fall down to your sides instead of forward folding.
- For added support, use an armless chair or bench. Sit on the edge of the chair, bring your knees wide. Keep the arm movements the same. Incorporate or eliminate the forward fold based on your body's needs (as listed above).
- Arm or shoulder pain: Adjust the extension of your arms to the degree it feels best to you
- Invite your head to relax as you fold down and rise back up. Imagine any stress or worry "rolling off your back."
- When you inhale -- retain your breath. Inhale (hold) Inhale (hold) Inhale (hold) exhale- haaa! This can be done by taking "sips" of inhales until fully exhaling.
- Explore with volume, intensity and sound -- make it your own.
Remember, whether Breath of Joy brings you joy or not is not the point of the pose. The focus is to consider different ways of movement and breathing that may help you calm your mind, connect to your body, or just change your perspective -- even for a moment. We are multifaceted humans and we never know what techniques in yoga may resonate until we try. Maybe you find Breath of Joy is the one for you. Maybe not. Maybe it feels great some days, and not so great other days. In all cases, you have an opportunity to REDISCOVER AND REPAIR your RELATIONSHIP to your body. Now that is something to be joyful about!