The Significance of Your Inhalation and Exhalation


Because our breath is such a normal and automatic thing, we tend to push it off like it doesn’t mean anything. In yoga there are multiple uses and meanings to our breath in general but today we’re going to focus on what our “Inhale” and “Exhale” are actually used for in yoga.

Have you ever wondered why your yoga instructor tells you to do specific movements on inhales and others on exhales? It’s because there is a sort of dance you do with your breath in yoga. Each section of your breath is tied directly to a number of purposes and uses. Let’s start off with your inhale.

What Your Inhale Means in Yoga

The purpose of your inhale in yoga is to consume. Your inhale is a time where you can take up space that you just can’t take up during an exhale. You can ingest anything like energy, emotions, space, etc. It is an invigorating part of the breath and that’s what makes it a great time to set intentions and find confidence in your yoga practice.
When you are inhaling you should generally be moving either upwards or forwards. If you are familiar with sun salutations you can even try thinking about it for a second and pay attention to all of the upward and forwards movements. The sun salutation and any yoga flow should abide by these rules. Anytime a flow has an exception to the rule you can probably notice it because it feels awkward or wrong in some way.

What Your Exhale Means in Yoga

The purpose of your exhale is to release. This can be expressed in multiple ways. It can be expressed by releasing energy, emotions, and space or it can be expressed by transferring your energy into something new while you rest. Your exhale should not be a collapse but just a release of what no longer serves you. There is still strength and incredible purpose to your exhale but it is more passive or transformational than your inhale.
The movements associated with your exhale are naturally the opposite of the inhale. Anytime you move down or backwards your exhale should be right there with you. Again, I encourage you to consider the sun salutation and run through it in your mind as you fall and move back every time you exhale. Another way that this section of your breath is used is by moving deeper into poses.


How Your Inhale and Exhale Work Together

Now you know how both your inhaling and exhaling work on their own but they do some amazing things together as well. They build on one another in a very practical and beautiful way. When you become aware of the uses of your breath in yoga, it becomes a sort of dance. Yoga is like a dance and your breath becomes the music that you dance to. It suddenly feels as if the sequences were made up for you by your own natural and internal rhythm. Your body rises with your inhale and lowers with the exhale. The next time around you move forward with your inhale and then go back with the exhale. After some practice with being mindful of your breath in relation to your movement, you can almost begin to anticipate the next movement before the instructor even calls it out.

Your breath can really take your yoga practice to a whole new level. It can help you with your alignment, energy, and as you read today, a whole lot more!

Mindful Eating: The Anti-Diet That Can Help You Lose Weight for Good

If it’s a fresh, hot off the press weight loss plan, we’re trying it. Diet after diet, many of us crack and end up back where we started, diving head first into a cheesecake. What if there was a way you could reach your weight loss goals without having to follow another crazy strict diet? If you think this sounds too good to be true, you’re wrong.

The truth is fad diets work until they don’t work. Think about the last time you started a new diet plan. You were excited and ready to tackle it full force and it seemed like something you could stick to for a long time. Fast forward three weeks into the diet, when your willpower starts to dwindle and food cravings begin rearing their ugly heads. You can only exercise your willpower muscle so much until it cracks, leading you into an all-out cheat fest on those foods you banned from your diet.

This is where a useful tactic called mindfulness can come in handy. You might have experienced the word ‘mindfulness’ being mentioned in the yoga community. Being mindful while eating is similar to utilizing mindfulness during your yoga or meditation practice. It is a simple and practical method that can help you stay in the moment when you sit down to have a meal, which will have a substantial impact on your weight loss efforts. We live in a fast-paced environment, where it’s not uncommon to multitask throughout the day in order to check things off our to-do lists. By practicing mindfulness during each of your meals, you will be able to listen to your body and react accordingly to the signals it’s sending you. Follow these tips before you sit down for your next meal and you will be on your way to a healthier relationship with food and your body.

Try not to label any food “off limits.” This only makes you want said food more, increasing the likelihood that you will binge. If you’re craving a particular food, allow yourself to have it. Before you take the first bite, ask yourself if you’re truly hungry or if you’re bored, stressed, sad or angry. If you are experiencing true hunger, allow yourself to have that food and enjoy every bite.

Before you take the first bite, sit in a quiet place, free from any distractions such as television, computers or phones. That means no social media! If you can, leave all electronics off the table and focus on what’s going on around you. Chew each bite of food slowly and actually taste your food. How does it taste? Is it too hot or cold? Spicy or bland? Don’t be so quick to douse your meal with salt before even trying it!

Take a few sips of water between bites to help you digest. Every so often, check in with your body. When you’re about a 6 on the fullness scale, put down the fork or spoon and stop eating. You want to be satisfied, not overly stuffed.

Practicing mindfulness around eating will not only help you lose weight, but it will help you appreciate food. Food is not a scary monster under the bed. Just like we learned how turn off our bodies natural hunger cues, we can re-learn how to react to them again.