The Art of Breathing

The weather at this time of year just wants to make you take a good long breath and enjoy the benefits of fresh airbut did you know just how good for you that breath could be?

Of course, we all know how to breathe. It is something that occurs to us automatically, spontaneously, naturally. We are breathing even when we are not aware of it. So it seems foolish to think that we should take time to learn how to breathe or focus on the quality of our breath. Yet, our breathing often becomes modified and restricted in various ways, not just momentarily, but habitually. We develop unhealthy habits without being aware of it. Our posture can greatly affect our capacity to breathe efficiently, it is therefore vital for us to address good postural alignment.  A slouched position will reduce the ability of our diaphragm (the main breathing muscle) to work efficiently and will diminish lung capacity.

Oxygen is the most vital nutrient for our bodies.  It is essential for the health of the brain, nerves, glands and internal organs. One of the major secrets of vitality and rejuvenation is a purified blood stream. The quickest and most effective way to purify the blood is by taking in extra supplies of oxygen from the air we breathe. By purifying the blood stream, every part of the body benefits, as well as the mind. Your complexion will become clearer and brighter and wrinkles will begin to fade away. In short, rejuvenation will start to occur.

The average person reaches peak respiratory function and lung capacity in their mid-20’s then they begin to lose respiratory capacity between 9% and 25% for every decade of life.  So, unless you are doing something to maintain or improve your breathing capacity, it will decline, and with it, your general health and your life expectancy. In fact the respiratory system should be responsible for eliminating 70% of your metabolic waste.

Out of all the fitness techniques in the world yoga has to be, without a doubt, the “King” of utilizing and understanding the power of the breath. The art of breathing is known as pranayama and several techniques are practiced.

In past posts I have explained the “Cleansing Breath” and “Alternate Nostril Breathing”, below are three more techniques for you to add to your armor.

Ujjayi pranayama: Ujjayi breathing (to become victorious or to gain mastery) consists of a gentle breath that is both relaxed and energized, allowing for a balance. Ujjayi pranayama sounds simple enough, in and out through your nose, but on each exhale, you should attempt to make the sound of an ocean wave in the back of your throat, you can achieve this by constricting the back of the throat, similar to the constriction made when speaking in a whisper. It’s important that you’re not trying to ingest more air, but shift the quality of your breath.

Benefits of Ujjayi pranayama include:–

  • improved concentration,
  • release of tension
  • diminished pain from headaches
  • relief of sinus pressure
  • decrease in phlegm
  • strengthening of the nervous and digestive systems

Kapalabhati pranayama: Kapalabhati is known as the skull-shining breath for good reason. It may feel a little weird at first, but once you get the hang of it, your head and body will both feel far lighter. To begin, start with a deep inhale and forcefully exhale — drawing all the air out of your belly. After your next full inhale, begin to exhale forcefully out through your nose 15 to 30 times quickly without taking an inhale; actively draw your belly in with each percussive exhale. After you’ve completed a full cycle of 15 to 30 quick exhales, passively inhale and exhale for a few breaths and enjoy before another round.

Benefits of Kapalabhati pranayama include:-

  • Relaxation
  • Weight loss
  • Minimizes risks of infections and allergies in the respiratory system.
  • Improves flexibility of the diaphragm
  • Improved energy levels

Sithali pranayama: This is a great technique for those of us living in Florida. It is a cooling breath that has an immediate effect on your entire body’s temperature. Begin by curling up your tongue into a tube-like passage. Inhale through your mouth (keeping your tongue just like this!), then close your mouth and hold your breath for five to 10. Exhale slowly through your nose. Repeat for 15 to 20 times — or whenever you feel sufficiently cooled off! This is a great quick fix if you’re feeling superhot or sticky.

Benefits of Sithali Pranayama include:-

  • Improved focus
  • Reduce agitation, anger and anxiety
  • Pacify excess heat in the system

So go on take a breather, it’s good for you!

By Cheryl Alker
24Seven Wellness & Living

Best Yoga Studios in Florida!

A BIG thank you to "Best things Florida" for naming us #1 Best yoga studio in FL! For the full article click the title of this blog.

1. Moksha Yoga Studio, Wellington, FL


"Celebrating 10 years and counting, Moksha Yoga Studio is the place to be if you want to experience various forms of yoga. From aerial yoga to restorative and Kripalu and many more, you can find your inner Zen wherever your skills are best suited. They also offer classes for kids and mommies-to-be. If you aren’t sure if yoga is right for you, try it for yourself at their community yoga class, which is offered once per month and is donation-only."



Yoga and Stress Relief

Life on the run! For many of us this describes how we are living our lives. Cell phone in one hand, iPad in the other. Talking, texting, tweeting, rushing to work, fighting traffic, eating in the car, running the kids to school and soccer, bills to pay, noise, relationship woes, TV blaring bad news, crime, economy, government...we are one stressed out society! To add even more stress to your load, if you don’t learn to manage your stress it will kill you.

Holy heart attacks and hypertension, Batman! What are we to do?

Let us begin with understanding the basics of stress in the body. We have our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). SNS is one body response to stress—the fight or flight action of releasing an extra quick burst of cortisol for survival reasons. Cortisol is a hormone released from the adrenal gland at normal intervals for glucose metabolism, regulation of blood pressure and immune function. Extra cortisol will heighten memory and senses, increase heart rate and blood pressure, and lower sensitivity to pain. PNS is responsible for physical relaxation and emotional calming. We need both SNS and PNS, but we need them balanced. Excessive PNS will not support quick reflexes when you need to slam on the brakes in order to avoid the dog that darts in front of your car. On the flip side, overactive SNS will have the body producing too much cortisol. Cortisol sounds like good stuff; why not have more pumping through the veins?

High, prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream are dangerous. These are some of the negative effects of too much cortisol:

» Impaired cognitive performance
» Suppressed thyroid function
» Blood sugar imbalance
» Reduced bone density
» Decreased muscle tissue
» Elevated blood pressure » Reduced immunity and
inflammatory response
» Slowed wound healing
» Increased abdominal fat, which leads to heart disease and diabetes

Getting the picture of how stress can kill us?

We may need a quick burst of cortisol, but once that need is met we need to relax to avoid the dangerous overproduction of cortisol. Can we actually train our brains and bodies to bring these necessary functions into healthy balance? Yes! How? Yoga!

Practicing yoga teaches the body and brain to achieve balance on many levels.

Breathing exercises, called pranayama, are an integral part of
a yoga practice. Inhaling shifts the nervous system toward SNS. The heart beats faster; the blood pressure rises. Exhaling shifts the nervous system towards PNS. The body relaxes, calming the heart rate and reducing blood pressure.

Poses or postures, called asanas, create the same dynamic. Certain poses will challenge us, initiating SNS. Moving from a challenging pose to a recovery pose, we shift to PNS. Inversions, turning our bodies upside down, defying gravity—SNS! Final relaxation, lying quietly and comfortably on the mat—PNS! Creating the rhythm trains the brain. Allowing the body to experience the shift from SNS to PNS in this rhythmic manner optimizes the body’s response to stress. Our bodies run on cellular memory. We will be able to draw on this cellular memory when stressful situations arise. Our brains will not shout the command, “control the cortisol; relax the body!” It will be an ingrained, unconscious pattern.

Speaking of unconscious, let’s go for more unconscious! All our stress and worries and fears are the result of our poor overwracked brains either in “blast from the past” or “freakout about the future” mode.

Be in the present! Yoga constantly reminds us and teaches us to stay in the present moment, thinking less and feeling more.

Are you new to yoga? Are you a power yoga junkie? Try a Restorative Yoga or Yin Yoga class for major stress relief. The power yoga junkie may find this class more of a challenge than the newbie because it means slowing down. Remember—it’s all about balance, baby! Restorative Yoga can be a super yummy way to end a stressful week. Props like bolsters and straps support the poses, allowing your body to relax and actually go deeper into the pose. Yin is similar in so much as the practice is very slow paced, allowing poses to be held longer, but typically without the props. Bending, stretching and twisting will release the tightness and achiness that stress puts in the joints and muscles.

Your yoga practice is not dependent upon a mat and a classroom and a teacher. Next time you and your stress levels rising, breathe deeply and shift your brain into “attitude of gratitude” are practicing beautiful yoga.


Written by Sheila Strobeck, instructor at Moksha Yoga Studio

You Got the Power!

Believe me when I say you have the power to get well and stay well right now. Regardless of what’s happening in your life, you get to choose how to react about it and overtime it will make you a happy and healthy person or a whiny and sick one. Whichever road you decide to take, it’s never too late to open your heart, your mind and your senses so you can get in touch with your inner-self, mentally and physically, even energetically speaking. 

The first step is to get in tune with your body. Listening to your body’s wisdom carefully, will give you all the answers you need. It is constantly sending you messages about what it requires to function properly, you just have to be conscious about it and take action. You can start to do the experiment, sort of like a trial-success method, exploring your body and seeing how you truly feel. Trust your own intuition, it’s that simple.    

Don’t compare yourself to others. Try whatever works best for you, discover what nourishes you and feel the power of making your own rules. and try to leave your own life and take care of yourself with what most works for you in this place, in this moment. Your body changes overtime, so it would be most likely that you will have to change some life habits as well, adjusting them gently to those changes to remain healthy and keep feeling great.   

Also, always think positive, think about leading an active, healthy life, then this is what’s most likely will become a reality for you. Drawing on this knowledge is one of the most profound and effective ways to change your life for the better. 

Quiet your mind. The quieter you become, the more you can hear. Take the time to slow down, calm your mind for a while and check in with yourself. Practice a little meditation technique every day, eat more slowly, breath more deeply, use spare moments to feel gratitude, basically be mindful.  

In essence, being healthy it’s just a matter of balance between your mind, your body and your spirit. So, take the time to quiet your mind and listen to your body. Trust in your own inner wisdom, your instincts reflect in a way what your body needs. Be mindful, use all of your senses to connect to yourself and to the world around you. Just by doing these small adjustments it can make a big difference for your overall well-being and state of mind, which in turn will translate to the people around you, and you will feel better, more active and in harmony. 

Just be honest, be you, be organic..! 

Written by Veronica of Veroganics and instructor at Moksha Yoga Studio!