The average adult breathes around 12 breaths per minute, each one of these unique breaths will have a positive effect on all of the bodily systems, yet we know little of our breathing unless we are into our yoga or breathwork.

Perhaps while you are reading this you have already started to count your breaths, it is also worth establishing whether you are a default nose breather or mouth breather, belly breather or upper chest breather as these will have quite an effect on your body, mind and wellbeing.

Certainly, in the current climate, breathing through the nose with its nasal passageways covered with small hairs and acting as vital filtering for the dust and irritants from the air we breathe would be recommended. I encourage my students to nasal breath as this also warms and humidifies the air before it hits the lungs, causing oxygen take up and respiration both easier and more efficient, something we promote in yoga, effortless effort.

Also, as we draw air in through the nose, it will pick up a wonder molecule in the nasal passage, nitric oxide. This neurotransmitter plays a role in every organ of the body, decreasing blood pressure, bolstering the immune system, acting as an anti-inflammatory for the arteries, enhancing memory and learning, influencing hormonal secretion, the list goes on and well worth investigating further on the web.

That is not to say mouth breathing is bad, when practiced in line with the many mouth breathing techniques available, can help us to tap into the subconscious part of ourselves and feel a sensation of bliss once mastered.

As far as breathing into the belly or higher parts of the lungs, it is probably no surprise that generally, we breath into our upper chests, with quite shallow breath. There is even a phenomenon called ‘email apnea’ where multitasking office workers breathe irregularly and shallowly – even at times holding their breath whist looking at their devices.

Again, in yoga we promote a good yogi breath, starting in the belly and filling up through the lungs, regulating and controlling our flowing movement through the practice. This alone reconnects us with belly breathing and it’s e huge benefits. A course of belly breathwork over several weeks has proven across many scientific trials to reduce anxiety across the participants and it is something we can all try. My personal triumphs with belly breath were each time I lined up for an interview or assessment, and at the build up to competing in races and even stuck at another set of roadworks!

There is so much on the internet about breathwork and worth further investigation, otherwise attend a yoga class and participate in some of the great breath awareness techniques you will encounter. Maybe just one of these techniques could improve your own wellbeing and it’s been there right under your nose all the time!

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This the year is a time for reflection, for myself, it is how the year has affected my yoga business. Cancelling public classes was hard and I genuinely thought his was merely a temporary situation. The online classes have been interesting, and I continue with these whilst the demand this there but it’s not a great medium for teaching a 3-dimensional practice. One-to ones are just too risky in the current climate, one thing we do subscribe to in yoga is not to harm ourselves and others.

Despite this, I remain positive and optimistic about the future of yoga in our society and being able to teach.

The pandemic and its constraints have allowed me the time to get deeper into my practice and study more about yoga, it’s evolution and method. I really think that, despite the obvious stigma that is associated with this practice, it is needed more than ever.

I have been lucky to teach some teens recently who have really embraced yoga, they are open to these holistic initiatives and once they have taken a class, they get it straight away. They see the benefit to their lives and are enthused about learning and practicing more, it really is an easy sell.

At the other end of the scale, I have some great yogis in my classes at Wellington leisure centre who are truly inspirational, octogenarians that can still hold quite challenging postures and move fluently and mindfully, through the class. They too recognize the benefits of yoga both physical and mental.

We all need to figure out coping mechanism for the stresses in life which come at us thick and fast. I would encourage you to consider yoga, at least as a means of finding things out about yourself, identifying and releasing your true potential and improving your mental wellbeing.

This is much more than developing physical fitness, the method is more about developing techniques for total relaxation, taking away the veils of tension we carry in our bodies and then our real potential can express itself, unhindered. Recognising the signs of stress and tension and training the body and mind to respond to these instinctively.

We cannot avoid the difficulties and problems that life throws up, but we can learn to navigate them safely, aspire to live a life, free of tension and anxiety, how about that?

The New Year is a time when we all reset, take stock, maybe get fitter, reevaluate. If you are interested in developing your mind and body to deal with the issues that occur, perhaps improve your fitness in a safe, sustainable way, then please do consider yoga, there is so much more to it than you might think.

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So how's the back bearing up with working from home?

I know of a few people who are experiencing lower back issues for the first time, not that this is entirely down to the several hours spent in the chair but I'll bet it plays a big part.

It's one thing to take breaks, which is the advice given sincerely by responsible employers, or even those with an eye on potential claim cases, "have you do completed your Desktop Environment assessment…"

It would be better to get tuned into your body, it's constraints, and then develop the range of movement you once had.

The weekend warriors are most vulnerable in this new way of working,.. Come the weekend, hitting the trails, grinding out the miles, pushing the body when it has been mostly sedentary, and held in an unnatural position all week, (thank the Victorians for inventing the chair).

There is the option of special chairs I suppose, although I prefer sitting cross legged on a bolster, it's been a revelation for me, my hips, my knees, and especially my back, shoulders and neck.

I certainly recommend we get to know our bodies and then work on the areas that need attention. The best way is to carry out a Range of Movement assessment. I can help with this over Zoom for now and when we are free again, on a safe 1:1 basis.

I will produce a home exercise practice to help you prevent\rectify\rehabilitate your body.

Yes, this is yoga, a means to prevent yourself from being another victim of bad posture, legacy injuries, body imbalance and dysfunctional movement.

My yoga is contemporary, relevant and above all aimed at helping today's postural issues.

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