When we are working with yoga students or even pilates students, breath work can be woven in pretty seamlessly. Our clients are used to us talking about letting the breath lead the movement, or about the quality of the breath. So they probably won't blink an eye, even if they come to you for a movement or relaxation experience, if you work with them on the breath.
But even though it can be woven in without drawing much attention to it, if we want to empower our clients to make lasting changes to the way they breathe, we need to explain to them why they should care.
We take somewhere between 20-25,000 breaths a day, so most of our clients' breathing is going to happen when they aren't with us! We need to give our clients tools to consciously practice breath work, multiple times a day, every day, and not just when they are on the yoga mat or working with you.
So why should we care about breathing mechanics? There are many reasons, but here are the four that top my list when I talk to my clients:
In the first half of this video, I reiterate a few of the key points about why attention to breath is so important, and about common cues and practices from different movement modalities (especially yoga) that can inhibit optimal breathing mechanics. (With a cameo from my cat, who is, apparently, deeply interested in why constantly contracting a muscle (group) impedes us from generating full force out of that muscle (group) when we need to!)
In the second half (starting at 8:00), I show an excerpt from a yoga flow I have been teaching variations on with my clients and classes throughout the past week. Please forgive the sweat and spinning attire--I tried to film this at home many times and was unable to get all the way through the sequence without one or the other of my little boys needing me. So after spin yesterday was the one time I could actually film uninterrupted this week!
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to breath work, but I hope it gives you some ideas for how you can begin to integrate this into the work you do in your classes or with your clients.
As always, feel free to ask questions or share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!