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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Tip of the Week: Breathing Guide for Standing Series

One of the first things you’ll hear during a typical yoga class is… breathe. Breath is one of the fundamental tools in any yoga or meditation practice. The simple act of focusing on your breath can improve your mental and physical health. Below are some breathing tricks for a few postures that will help improve your Bikram yoga practice, specifically the standing series, from Lindsay Dahl at

Eagle Pose


Eagle pose is one of the easiest postures to restrict or stop breathing all together. For this posture be extra mindful of maintaining a low, unrestricted breath throughout the length of the whole posture. Having your arms twisted across your chest and squatting like you’re in a public bathroom, no wonder it’s easy to stop breathing.
Since this posture is at the end of the warm up series, it’s particularly important to maintain your breath so you can glide into the standing series without feeling fatigued.

Standing Head to Knee


I have two thoughts on using the breath in this posture. I learned these tips from Mary Jarvis, a long time Bikram teacher. She advises students to inhale deeply when extending your leg out in the second part of the posture (kicking your leg out). This allows your lungs to fill with oxygen. Similar to the spine strengthening series, once you have this full deep breath, breath slowly and normally.
Second, take another deep relaxed breath before pulling your arms down to the sides of your legs (the third part of the posture). These two breaths have been the key to surviving and maintaining my Standing Head to Knee pose.

Standing Bow

Similar to my Mary’s suggestion for Standing Head to Knee, try taking a big, dramatic breath and stretch your body and chin toward the ceiling before you start kicking you leg. This large breath will help sustain you through the posture and will give you the confidence to nail the pose for the full 60 seconds.

Standing Separate Leg Stretching/Toe Stand


When coming out of Standing Separate Leg Stretching and Toe Stand pose, I have a tendency to get light headed or dizzy. My teacher and friend Martha Williams from Bikram Yoga Minneapolis taught me to take a deep breath as I exit both of those postures. The deep inhale as you rise both helps you pull in your stomach (necessary for a safe exist) as well as provides enough oxygen to avoid feeling dizzy.

Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee


Take a deep breath while stretching up to the ceiling before you tuck your chin to your chest and roll up like a sushi roll; this will dramatically help with the execution of Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee pose. The breath before entering this posture has less to do with oxygen intake and more to do with setting up the posture correctly. By taking this deep breath and compressing your lower abdomen, you can begin the proper compression as you roll down to put your forehead on the knee. And yes, the extra oxygen helps you glide through the standing series!




Here’s an unconventional breathing tip for savasana: relax your groin. It’s easy to settle in for a two minute savasana, and not even think about relaxing your groin and pelvic floor. By relaxing this area, your breath will naturally relax and slow down.

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