Inside YJ’s YTT: Discovering the Power of the Breath + the Mind

Yoga Journal associate art director Abigail Biegert shares two lasting lessons she learned in yoga teacher training this week.
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Yoga Journal associate art director Abigail Biegert shares two lasting lessons she learned in yoga teacher training this week.
YJNY15-Tony-F-Photography---Friday-WEB-8300

Yoga Journal associate art director Abigail Biegert shares two lasting lessons she learned in yoga teacher training this week.

Prior to starting our Yoga Pod Boulder teacher training at the beginning of this year, I would have considered myself to be a “here and there” yogi, one who was very unaware of my body, my potential for mindfulness, and the influence that my practice could have on other people. Sure, I chose my diet carefully, took care of myself physically and emotionally, and surrounded myself with a good circle of friends. However, after a couple of classes, it was clear I didn’t pay attention to one very important piece of my day, one that often goes by the wayside for so many of us: the breath.

See alsoInside YJ’s YTT: 4 Fears We Had Before Yoga Teacher Training

Finding Our Breath

Breathe. Inhale. Exhale. What a difference it can make when you know how to do it right and how to utilize your breath in times of stress or anxiety. This has been one of my favorite teachings during our training.

I noticed during our early asana classes that the breath wasn’t moving in sync among the class or with the teacher’s cues. Maybe it’s because so many of us were so immersed in learning the asana, only focusing on which foot was forward and which pose came next. Slowly, throughout the weeks, I’ve begun to notice I no longer need to watch the teacher; I can just listen to the cues and focus on sinking into each pose. Heads are no longer turning to see if we’re doing the same thing as our neighbors. Now, just three weeks later, the flow has improved, the collective breath in the room is in sync, and we are all starting to gel.

The same thing has also happened off the mat. Before learning about how important breathing was, I found that my breathing was very shallow—from my throat, not from my belly—and oftentimes I would even hold my breath for a few seconds while focusing on a design at work. Being aware of your breath unleashes your potential for mindfulness in the most empowering way. It’s so easy to get caught up in life, work, and relationships. Sometimes, I wonder what my future would have been like had I never paid a second thought to breathing and the instantaneous way doing so mindfully can improve your day.

See alsoThe Science of Breathing

Working with the Wisdom of the Yoga Sutra

As part of our teacher training, we are also reading the classic book The Path of the Yoga Sutra, by Nicolai Bachman. One teaching from the book that stood out to me is, “Be curious and loving to things you would dislike.” It suited the theme of class last week and is a mini mantra that I think I’ll carry with me for a while.

It seems as if there’s always something to take away from class, though. Whether I come into it thinking about a million other things or feeling too tired to even get on the mat, it’s always worth it in the end. This week, I learned how to “let go of whether I like the pose or not” and to just be in it. Instead of thinking about how much I hate Forearm and Side Planks, I tapped into Bachman’s wisdom and the power of my breath. It’s amazing what the breath and mind can do together. I’m excited for what’s next and ready to keep learning.

See also The Yoga Sutra: Your Guide To Living Every Moment