As a fitness trainer with over 25 years of experience, I am deeply committed to incorporating holistic practices into my training sessions. At VillaSport, where I lead weekly yoga classes, I highly value the feedback and suggestions from my attendees. Recently, one participant suggested focusing monthly on a specific Yogic breath. We welcomed this idea and delved into the practice of Sama Vritti Pranayama, commonly known as Square Breathing. This article will guide my class attendees and anyone interested in embarking on this transformative journey.
My foray into Yogic breathing began with the goal of naturally enhancing performance without external aids. This journey led me to various Yogic breathing methods' calming and mind-quieting effects. This practice is a cornerstone of my Sound Bath and Restorative Yoga classes at VillaSport in Beaverton, offering a blend of physical and mental benefits.
Sama Vritti Pranayama, meaning 'balanced breath,' involves a symmetrical breathing cycle that fosters equilibrium in both body and mind. Research supports its effectiveness in reducing stress and improving respiratory functions, making it an invaluable tool for overall well-being.
Create a Calm Environment: Select a tranquil space for your practice.
Breathing Technique: Inhale and exhale through the nose in a balanced pattern - inhale, hold, exhale, pause - each phase lasting four counts.
Consistency is Key: Regularly practice this cycle for several minutes each day.
A longstanding client who previously suffered from anxiety attacks experienced significant relief through Square Breathing. She now employs this technique as a direct response to anxiety, showcasing its potent role in stress management.
I warmly invite you to explore the benefits of Sama Vritti Pranayama. Seize this opportunity to transform your wellness routine, and feel free to share your experiences with our community. For those interested in a deeper understanding of the science of breathing, I recommend "Breath" by James Nestor and "The Oxygen Advantage" by Patrick McKeown. These books provide an accessible yet thorough examination of the profound impact of breathwork.
Join our community for the upcoming month of Square Breathing, and stay tuned for more insights into Yogic breathing techniques in future articles.
In the world of fitness and athletics, there's an often-overlooked yet crucial detail: our breathing technique. Recently, a former Yoga class attendee asked me a straightforward but essential question: "Why should we breathe through our noses during Yoga?" He had forgotten the reasoning we discussed in class, and his query reminded me that it might be helpful to share this knowledge more widely. So, I'm writing this piece as a reminder for anyone who might need it, offering insight into the significance of nasal breathing in both Yoga and general fitness.
With over 25 years of experience in personal training, my commitment to helping athletes achieve their peak potential has always driven me to explore methods that enhance performance without external aids like sports drinks or energy gels. My background in Yoga has been instrumental in understanding the profound impact of mastering our breath, which can shift us from a fight-or-flight state to a more relaxed and thriving mode.
The concepts of "survive" and "thrive" are particularly fascinating. They encapsulate our body's response to physical exertion, governed significantly by the rhythm of our breath and its influence on our brain.
In my Yoga classes, the first lesson I teach involves understanding three key reasons to breathe through the nose:
Supporting these benefits, scientific studies offer compelling evidence. A 2018 study in the 'Journal of Physical Therapy Science' showed that nasal breathing increases blood carbon dioxide saturation, improving oxygen uptake. Additionally, a 2020 article in the 'International Journal of Yoga' demonstrated that nasal breathing in Yoga significantly reduces stress by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
But what truly elevates a Yoga class is the seamless connection between breath and movement. I encourage students to inhale during one part of a movement and exhale through the nose during another, each at their own comfortable pace. This approach fosters a deeply personalized experience, unlike synchronized Yoga classes where everyone moves in unison. I also suggest taking this mindful breathing practice beyond the Yoga mat and applying it to various gym exercises, with a few exceptions.
Nasal breathing's principles are transformative across fitness disciplines. In strength training, syncing breath with movement phases enhances power and stability. During cardiovascular exercises like running or cycling, it promotes a calm, focused state, boosting endurance. In HIIT, controlled nasal exhales during rest periods can quicken recovery. Adopting these techniques across exercise forms not only improves physical performance but also fosters a holistic approach to health.
Many clients have reported significant improvements in breathing, enhanced performance, better sleep, and reduced snoring, all thanks to conscious breath control.
For a deeper dive, I recommend "Breath" by James Nesbitt and "The Oxygen Advantage" by Patrick McEwen. These books offer valuable insights into optimizing breath for better performance.
In conclusion, peak performance begins with something as simple as your breath. Inhale deeply, exhale slowly, and let the natural rhythm of your breath unlock your true potential in fitness and well-being.
I'm eager to hear how breathing techniques have influenced your fitness journey. Have you integrated nasal breathing into your workouts? What changes have you observed? Share your experiences in the comments, or contact me for personalized advice on incorporating these techniques into your routine.
When: 10-25-2020 to 10-28-2020
Sample Retreat day schedule:
Retreat @ $299 will include:
We are renting two adjacent beach houses, with a beautiful ocean view. Each guest will have a private room. $115 per night.
What to bring:
Your personal belongings, a Yoga mat, water bottle, a journal, and a bathing suit if you’d like to use the hot tub.
What is our expectations of you:
Disconnect from your electronics if possible, leave your phone in your bedroom.
Observe silence during journaling and quiet reflection time. You are freed of the burden of small talk, be comfortable in silence and participate in meaningful conversations.
Please RSVP by emailing Tia@sustainablefitness.training and pay $100 towards your accommodations via Venmo @Tia-SF.
Looking forward to spending this amazing time with you!
As human beings, we tend to set goals when we feel inspired. Then, when that inspiration is coupled with education, we strengthen our willpower to accomplish those goals—but sometimes we make it and sometimes we fall off the wagon. If we add motivation to the equation, though, we become unstoppable.
No matter where you are in your efforts, the resources in this list (which I update periodically) should help you get inspired, educate yourself and find your motivation.
During my years in India, I learned a bit about Ayurveda, the ancient Hindu science of health and medicine. Ayurveda recognizes six tastes, each of which plays a vital role in our physiology, health and well-being. These tastes are: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent.
Recognizing and understanding these six tastes contributes to successful weight loss. Satiety, or the feeling of fullness, occurs when we consume a good combination of these tastes. In other words, we crave foods because one taste or another is missing from our diet. When we try to overcome that craving by eating the same foods we always do, we may overeat and still not satisfy our cravings.
A good way to a balanced diet achieve satiety is to understand these tastes and incorporate them into meal planning.
As a naturally appealing element of our diets, this requires little explanation. It is the flavor of sugars such as glucose, sucrose, fructose, maltose and lactose. Sweetness can be found in fruits, vegetables, grains (like rice), nuts (like cashews) and legumes (like garbanzo beans).
This taste is also quite familiar. We often “pucker” when we encounter the sour taste. It immediately moistens the mouth and increases the flow of saliva. Sourness is found in grapefruit, lemon, lime and tamarind, tomatoes and pickled vegetables, and dairy foods such as feta cheese, sour cream and yogurt.
This taste is almost singularly derived from salt, making it easy to identify in our diets. However, other sources of saltiness include celery and seaweed.
This dry heat taste may be less familiar, although it can be found in many foods, including chilies, garlic, leeks, onions, mustard greens, radishes, turnips and raw spinach, buckwheat and spelt, and mustard seeds. Most herbs and spices are pungent, especially black pepper, cardamom, cayenne, cloves, ginger and paprika.
The bitter taste is quite familiar as a taste that most people avoid. Good examples include leafy greens such as kale, collards, dandelion greens and eggplant. Sesame, coffee, and dark chocolate, as well as spices such as cumin, dill, fenugreek, saffron and turmeric are good sources of bitterness.
This dry flavor immediately produces a dry, chalky sensation in the mouth. The astringent taste is frequently complimented by sweetness or sourness. Fruit, such as apples, green bananas, cranberries and pomegranate are astringent. So are vegetables like alfalfa sprouts, Brussels sprouts, raw broccoli and cabbage, as well as spices like basil, bay leaf, caraway, coriander, dill, fennel, marjoram, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, poppy seeds and rosemary.
So, the next time you have a craving, analyze which taste was missing from your diet during the past 24 hours. Eat a food from that taste group and see how quickly your craving disappears. You'll be surprised how you can manage cravings by incorporating these six tastes into your daily meal plans.
All disease begins in the gut. - Hippocrates
The process of digestion and absorption is critical to health. We have to be conscientious about what we eat and how foods benefit us.
At the very simple level, the human body has to have a balanced pH (acid/base level) to function correctly. Research has proven that disease cannot survive in an alkaline state, yet it thrives in an acidic environment.
On the pH scale of 1 to 14, an acidic environment is less than 7.4. A basic or alkaline setting is greater than 7.4. The human body works best when it remains close to 7, which is neutral. You can find more information and pH values here.
Healthy gut flora, the complex community of microorganisms living in the digestive tract, has a balanced pH. Probiotics, which are typically associated with a healthy digestive system, may also help maintain this balance. These five foods help improve gut flora and balance the body's pH:
Wheatgrass is a good source of potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. It's also a source of protein.
This food's high alkalinity helps balance your body's pH levels. Wheatgrass is a complete food that provides enzymes and all essential amino acids, as well as antioxidants that help repair damaged cells. Some other benefits may include:
The best way to consume wheatgrass is through freshly squeezed juice. If this isn't a viable option for you, the powdered form is a good alternative.
Kefir is a unique cultured dairy product that is one of the most probiotic-rich foods on the planet. It has incredible medicinal benefits for the digestive system, such as:
The best kefir is home made, since you know the quality of the milk, the container and anything you add to each batch. If making at home isn't an option, plain greek kefir is a good alternative.
If you are lactose intolerant, you may make water kefir to gain many of the same benefits.
Kombucha describes a variety of fermented, lightly effervescent, sweetened black or green tea drinks that are commonly consumed for their health benefits. Kombucha is produced by naturally fermenting tea using a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY).
A probiotic beverage that aids digestion and gut health, kombucha provides numerous benefits, from fighting candida (harmful yeast) overgrowth to improving mental clarity and mood stability.
Kombucha is quite easy to brew at home. You can get a starter kit at most health food stores or from The Kombucha Shop.
Yogurt is created through the bacterial fermentation of milk. The process involves adding healthy bacteria to milk in a controlled temperature environment.
Yogurt provides a dose of animal protein plus vitamins and nutrients such as calcium, vitamins B-2 and B-12, potassium and magnesium. It's an appropriate option for breakfast, snacks and other meals.
The best yogurt is homemade, since you know the quality of the milk, the container and anything you add to each batch. Most store-bought yogurt contains sugar and preservatives. I am happy to share my homemade starter and help you start making your own yogurt.
If making a batch at home isn't an option, plain Greek yogurt is a good alternative.
The bacteria in sourdough pre-digests the flour, releasing micronutrients. This process takes place during a long, slow fermentation, which also gives the loaf a superior taste and texture. Plus, sourdough bread takes longer to digest, helping you feel full after you eat it.
The best sourdough is the one that you bake at home. All you need are flour, water and salt. All of the unnatural ingredients included in commercially produced bread are eliminated. To get started, try this great homemade recipe that I've been using.
If you choose to buy your bread, find a local bakery and buy a fresh sourdough loaf made from whole wheat, rye or spelt.
We spend so much time and effort into eating healthy, it is equally important to educate our selves in healthy cookware and bakeware.
The main issues with traditional cookware like non-stick and aluminum is that they can leach hormone disrupting chemicals and toxins into food…and choosing a non toxic cookware can be confusing. After much reading and trial and error, here is what I recommend.
Nonstick/ Teflon cookware: Get rid of it, non-stick cookware is made using a carcinogenic chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which starts emitting toxic fumes that you inhale every time you cook with a non-stick pot or pan!
Cast Iron: I love the old fashioned cast iron pots and pans. It is durable, versatile and pretty easy to use, once you get a hang of seasoning it. Here is a website with great instructions: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-season-a-cast-iron-skillet-cleaning-lessons-from-the-kitchn-107614. If you are low in iron, cast iron is an excellent choice. If you don't want additional iron, enameled cast iron is another choice. My favorite brand for cast iron pans are Good Old Lodge and for enameled cast iron I like Le Crueset.
Stainless Steel: This is a good choice. My favorite stainless steel cookware is a rice cooker. It is pretty easy to use and cooks brown rice perfectly well. Stainless steel pots and pans can be used in so many different ways.
Bakeware: Finding the right bakeware is tricky. Cast iron, stainless steel and glassware require a lot more oil, and still stick. Aluminum bakeware gets chipped off pretty easy and then leaches into the food. By far the best bakeware is Demarle at Home. They make the commonly known Silpat and other Flexipans of silicone and woven glass. The silicone contributes the nonstick properties and the conductivity of the woven glass, an even cooking process. No additional spraying of oil or flouring of pans is necessary. The Flexipan conforms to European, French and US silicone regulations. It has been awarded the NSF certification for safety and quality design, Kosher and it is US FDA approved. The Flexipans and trays also carry a lifetime manufacturing defect warranty. You can get more information and purchase these pans at www.mydemarleathome.com/mara