Answering common breath and movement questions

Getting the hang of breath and movement takes a bit of work when you tackle them separately, and combining them successfully can be even trickier. The following sections give you some tips on handling both.


How much should I move and how long should I hold?

We note the number of repetitions and how long to hold them in all our recommended programs. With practice, you develop an idea of what's right for you; a lot depends on how you feel at any given moment. In general, we suggest at least three but no more than eight repetitions for a dynamic, or moving, posture. You can put together a program that has only moving postures, but normally we recommend a combination of both static (still) and dynamic postures.

We often ask you to hold a posture for six to eight breaths, which translates to roughly 30 seconds. Keep breathing when you hold a posture — don't hold your breath.

What about bouncing when I hold a stretching posture?

Now and then, we still see eager Yoga practitioners seeking to achieve better flexibility by bouncing during the holding phase of a stretching posture. This practice is part of old-school training, which really isn't such a good habit after all. Bouncing not only tends to disconnect you from the breath but also can be risky, especially if your muscles are stiff or not adequately warmed up. Be kind to yourself!

How do I start combining breath with movement?

The arrows in the following exercise and wherever they appear in this book tell you the direction of postural movement and the part of the breath that goes with the movement. Inhale means inhalation, exhale means exhalation, and breaths means the number of breaths defining the length of a postural hold.

1. Lie on your back comfortably with your legs straight or bent.

Place your arms at your sides near your hips with your palms turned down (see Figure 5-6a).

2. Inhale through your nose and, after one or two seconds, begin to slowly raise your arms up over your head — in sync with inhalation — until they touch the ground behind you (see Figure 5-6b).

Leave your arms slightly bent.

3. When you reach the end of inhalation, pause for one or two seconds even if your arms don't make it to the floor and then exhale slowly through your nose and bring your arms back to your sides along the same path.

Figure 5-6:

The breath surrounds the movement.

Figure 5-6:

The breath surrounds the movement.

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Unite Mind Body Spirit With Yoga

Unite Mind Body Spirit With Yoga

Practitioners of yoga talk about a unification of body, mind and spirit acquired through practicing the yoga exercises and techniques. Learn more within this guide.

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