Another month, another 30+ days of not running. To say I’m missing it would be like saying a caffeine addict trying to avoid their daily fix of java – it’s a tough one both mentally and physically. Physically I can feel my fitness slipping away but mentally it has been tougher. Running gave me space to think, plan and simply be – I haven’t been able to find this freedom quite yet. I’ve tried to focus on other things such as my wedding but I’m missing this great sense of liberty, let’s call it meditative space. Thankfully, I found out about Pranayama Breathing with a fantastic yoga teacher called Kate who runs Rooted In Yoga.
Mum is not new to yoga. In fact, she used to practice yoga when I was a young child so it comes as no surprise that her love for this form of exercise has rekindled. After all, she’s in her 60s, retired and wanted to find something challenging but also gentle. Yoga was an obvious choice and I have to say it has brought out a different side to her, offering that space to relax and just be.
What it has also done, is opened up her world to new practices and vocabulary thanks to a great teacher called Kate of Rooted In Yoga. The latest being Pranayama Breathing. And of course, my mum being my mum, she was singing from the hilltops about it – as in sending me a load of information about it, which I then marked to read later but never got around to taking a look at.
It was only when I joined mum at one of the Rooted In Yoga Pranayama Breathing workshops that I understood how it can help. I was looking forward to the workshop but slightly concerned at the thought of having to sit still for an hour and a half – it’s not something that comes exactly naturally to me. Surprisingly though, I really felt the benefits.
The exercises were a mixture between inhalation and exhalations with a focus on each separately and noticing how they made us feel. Then there was the golden thread breath, where you lightly exhale as if you’re trying to hold a delicate thread straight with your breath. At times, I waved my hand in front of my mouth to check I was still breathing. This was all while sitting on our flexed toes for three minutes, which is painful at first but then becomes more manageable.
For Pranayama breathing is more than just taking the breath in, it’s a practice that helps with everything from reducing stress and pain to increasing energy and positivity. You are taught to observe your own rhythms and breath which calms you down. It’s sounds so simple but it is actually incredibly difficult to focus on one thing at a time.
There are 101 things that I could have taken from the class but what stuck with me most was the concentration on the breath. Plus the art of sitting for Pranayama – taken from Rooted In Yoga:
o Keep the spine long, finding the central axis where the pelvic floor, lower back and mid thoracic can stack. See picture.
o Relax the shoulders and arms
o Keep your chin slightly tucked to the chest to lengthen the neck o Relax the eyes, let them be soft and closed. Not burrowing into the eyelids but gently observing inward
o Soften the ears and tune into the sound of breath only
o Relax the tongue. Passive and settled at the base of the mouth.
It may not be a complete replacement for my running but in terms of centring myself and finding some kind of solace, this yoga practice helps.
If you ever fancy a change of scene or want to escape the big smoke, Kate’s classes and regular workshops in Rochester, Kent are a breath of fresh air. To find out more, go to rootedinyoga.com
Thank you to Kate from Rooted In Yoga for her welcoming yoga class, please let me know where you’re teaching in London.