Breathe in Grace & Breathe out Praise: The Importance of Breath in Yoga

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Its Tuesday morning. I woke up early to pray and prepare for my 10am yoga class.
Outside it is foggy and damp from yesterdays rain.
Today is the second day of spring break and my kids are full of energy and literally jumping from couch to couch singing the song from "Frozen" at the top of their lungs.
 It's 6:23am.

Maybe you've been practicing for years or you've never stepped foot on a mat in your life. Either way, this journey starts the same for each of us. Each class starts in a comfortable position focused on your breath. For some, this can be really frustrating because all you want to do is jump into asana. I watch my classes, and in every single one, there are two points where we collectively struggle. It does not matter if its a slow grounding class or if I'm really pushing my yogis, the beginning focus on breathing and the end savasana. We just can't sit still. Our minds wander and our breathing is all over the place and our asana suffers. By forgoing these two important parts of practice, we are sacrificing the thing we want most without even realizing it.

What is it that brings you to your mat? Why do you practice?

Listening to a class by Brooke Boon, the founder of Holy Yoga, she said something along the lines of, "Did you know that design of classic yoga is to tire out the mind and body for meditation." Friends, this sums up practice for me. I step on my mat to draw close to my creator.
I can not meditate on God's word without a clear mind. I can not listen to Him until I drown out all the other voices, to do lists and worries that crowd my thoughts. I must, before I move in praise, draw near and place those things in His hands. It's only then I can begin to appreciate my freedom in Christ enough to move in worship and praise. That time that's set aside at the beginning of each class, it's purposeful. Don't rush through it. Each breath is a gift from God. We get to choose what we do with each one.
Do a quick Google search and you'll find that learning to control and lengthen your breath can help with reducing stress and anxiety; promote restful sleep; ease pain; increase attention and focus; and help you connect to a calm, quiet place so you can experience greater clarity and well-being. But why do you think breath does that? Because that's the way God designed the body.
We are created beings who long to connect to our Creator. That's what yoga does for me. I step on my mat and take a moment to relax and breathe. I place all my distractions at His feet because He can take care of each one. As I breathe, I turn my focus on Him, because we never practice with an empty mind, but with a focused mind and heart. I meditate on His words, His promises. I breathe in His all sufficient grace. And I have no choice but to breathe out His praise.

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