Reverse Breathers

How is Dirgha going? Are you finding it easy to inflate your belly on the inhale?

When I first started Dirgha my belly felt really tight! I found out I had been a reverse breather all my life! I was drawing my belly in when I inhaled instead of letting it inflate. Not only did this lead to less mobility in my abdomen, it also encouraged chest breathing, which made me feel like I could never really take in a full breath, which then led me to feel anxious! So… yeah…I’m pretty grateful for my pranayama practice.      ((The reason I was reverse breathing in the first place is a longer story…I’ve got a few theories about that)).

Even if you’re not a reverse breather you might still find you feel tightness around your belly— if that’s the case see if you can encourage a subtle and soft filling of the belly instead of forcing it to inflate beyond what feels comfortable and natural.

As always, feel free to comment here or contact me directly with any questions! Happy Breathing! 

On Finding My Way to Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health

Since childhood I have sensed the possibility of connecting with a reality beyond what was presented to me in society or at school. As a child it was something I felt in nature, or even just daydreaming in my bedroom. With Yoga I found another path deeper into myself and beyond the surface of my external world.  I’m grateful to my mother who, when I was just 13, encouraged me to take yoga classes with a local teacher. I remember one of my first times leaving a yoga class and simultaneously feeling a sense of deep connection to myself and the earth beneath me while also feeling a sense of lightness and internal spaciousness. These were some of my first experiences scratching the surface of what some say is the ultimate goal of yoga and meditation: oneness, union, bliss.
    Having played piano and performed in theatre since childhood I had experienced what it was to be “in the flow” and surrender to the moment; yoga, however, offered me a different energetic experience and gave me a new understanding of the potential for the union of body and mind.
    In college, yoga became hugely helpful to me in the midst of a heavy course load when I needed the shift in perspective and sense of equanimity that one hour of practice offered me.  
    The year I graduated college I stumbled upon Stephen Cope’s book “Yoga and the Quest for the True Self”. In Cope’s book I found words, thoughts, and stories that resonated with me more deeply than any other text I had ever read. The author and the people he wrote about were seekers like myself. Seekers of truth, reality, freedom.
    Soon after graduating college I moved to New York City and for five years lived the fun and stimulating life of a young actor in the big city. Although a part of me was satisfied there was a large part of myself I was not tending to. Theatre was fun but I also yearned to have a deep spiritual life and to help others receive the benefits I had received from yoga and other contemplative practices. Knowing it was time for a change I applied for a Yoga Teacher Training at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. I grew up receiving Kripalu’s enticing catalogs and grew further intrigued by the center through Stephen Cope’s book which focused on his time living there.
    The 200 hour training was fantastic but at the end of it I felt that I had only explored the tip of the proverbial yoga iceberg. I am forever grateful that I had the opportunity less than a year after finishing my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training to be the intern for the Kripalu School of Yoga. In my internship I had the honor of spending time in the presence of people like Yoganand Michael Carroll who continue to inspire me on my ever deepening path of Spiritual inquiry and exploration.
    The reasons I practice yoga are many, and so it follows that my reasons for being a yoga teacher are just as varied. I do know however that I feel a particular tug in my heart at the thought of bringing peace and joy to the minds and bodies of those who never thought taking an hour for themselves was a possibility, who would never think to enter a yoga studio, who can’t even imagine the bliss of even just momentary internal silence. I am forever grateful to Kripalu for giving me the tools to facilitate experiences where people leave with more hope in their hearts, freedom in their minds, softness in their actions, and courage in their bodies. In a world full of uncertainty, fear, and struggle there is not much else I could be happier to do.