Mindful Breathing

Breathing Mindfully Can Change Your Life

We all do it, every moment of every day. Inhaling and exhaling, we are all pros right? You may not be as good a breather as you think you are. A relatively healthy person at maximum exercise intensity only uses 70 percent of their possible lung capacity. What about the other 30%? The good news is that with a few simple breathing exercises you can increase your maximum lung capacity as well as calm your nervous system and even increase focus.

It has been long believed in Eastern traditions that breathing is crucial for balancing the body-mind connection and promoting overall well being. The control of the breath has been shown to increase the ability to focus, calm the nervous system and bring about an attitude of mindfulness. Western studies on breathing techniques were developed independently from any religious or spiritual belief or purpose, and are mainly used for therapeutic purposes such as biofeedback and progressive relaxation. These breathing techniques are based on slowing down your breath frequency. This style of ‘Paced” breathing has been associated with relaxation and well-being while fast breathing has been often mutually linked to anxiety and stress (Homma and Masaoka, 2008).

So everyone agrees, mindful breathing increases relaxation, health and wellbeing; so now what. Well, it’s time to designate some time and space for mindful breathing practices. One place where you can experience your breath fully is in a yoga practice. Yoga skillfully integrates your breath with your movement. This practice gives us a sense of what mindful breathing in our day to day life might be like. Our bodies are moving, we are paying attention to our teacher who is guiding us all the while our breath keeps a slow and guiding rhythm. If that all feels like a tap your head, pat your belly situation; try just focusing on your breathing first to lay a foundation of understanding and awareness. Try these two mindful breathing practices accompanied by video guides to begin your journey towards discovering the calming, centering and healing effects of your breath.

Belly Breathing or Diaphragmatic Breathing

Of the muscles used for normal breathing, the diaphragm is one of the most important. Often, people use accessory muscles in their neck, shoulders and back to breathe more than they use their diaphragm. Belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing helps you to retrain the diaphragm to work better, so you can breathe more efficiently. Here’s how to perform belly breathing:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent or resting on a pillow.
  • Place one hand on your upper chest and the other hand on your belly.
  • Inhale slowly through your nose.
  • As you inhale, focus on feeling the hand on your belly rise and the hand on your chest remaining as still as possible.
  • Exhale slowly through your nose. As you exhale, focus on feeling the hand on your belly go down first. If you are unable to exhale through your nose, purse your lips and exhale through your mouth slowly.
  • Repeat this same sequence sitting and incorporate the awareness of this breath multiple times throughout the day.
  • Watch this video tutorial of Diaphragmatic Breath.

Balanced Breath (Equal inhale and Exhale)

Once you have begun the retraining of your diaphragm with belly breathing, you can add the exercise of balancing your breath. The process of increasing your breath capacity can be challenging at first, so begin slowly and only increase the count of your breath as you feel comfortable.

  • Comfortable seated or standing position. Ensure that your spine is extended to support the fullness of your breath.
  • Repeat the process of the belly breath
  • Begin counting the duration of your inhales and exhales, noting the difference
  • Next, bring a balance to the duration of your inhales and exhales starting with a comfortable count for each.
  • Gradually and with practice you can begin to expand the length of your breaths while keeping them in balance and staying relaxed and comfortable.
  • Log into our Yoga Video Library to watch breath practice videos.

Now is the time to begin a mindful breathing practice. There is no better time to give your immune and respiratory system the most resiliency possible. Join us for one of our weekly classes or tune into the yoga video library for breathing tutorials.

Shoutout Colorado – Shauna

Have you ever heard of Shoutout Colorado? It's an online magazine that asks questions about life, work, love, parenting, finances, and more. They believe, as we do, that meaningful conversations are at the heart of community building. They also think every voice matters and that these conversations shouldn’t be led by billionaires, media elites, or celebrities. So when Shoutout Colorado wanted to feature Shauna we were happy and proud. The full article is here, but we thought you'd enjoy hearing Shauna's answer to this question -

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.

Longmont Climbing Collective – of course!
Cheese Importers
Pump House Restaurant
Longs Peak Pub
The Roost
La Vita Bella – Coffee Shop and More
Quarters for retro video games + beer
Grossenbart – favorite Micro Brewery
Wibby’s – Has a pool and outdoor music venue in the summer

Meet Shauna Hylenski | LCC Founder, Program Director & Yoga Teacher

8 Limbs of Yoga

8 Limbs of Yoga

Breathing in and breathing out, moving gracefully, or not in and out of postures.
Balancing on one foot, one hand, your head even? Why should we spend the time, the money and energy towards yoga? How does it benefit besides giving us an excuse to wear comfy yoga clothes?

Yoga is an ancient tradition of movements as well as meditation, breath practices and guiding principles that help us to navigate through our lives with grace, ease and gratitude. What is currently identified as yoga, is just one part of the whole system. It would be the same if you just put one hand and one foot on the climbing wall and proclaimed you were climbing. By pulling out just one part of the whole, you lose the potential of the full experience.

8-Limbs of Yoga this gives us the full prospective and magnitude of yoga in the ways it can positively affect ourselves and the greater world around us.
Let’s take this one limb at a time.

Yamas or self-control. These are qualities we must strive to develop within ourselves.

Ahimsa: Non-Violence Non-violence in this context means no intention to hurt ourselves or others. We can hurt others and ourselves in many different ways. Apart from obvious physical and mental violence, feeding your body toxic food, anger, jealousy, and unkind words are all forms of violence. Over training regularly or not finding a balance of work and play. These all can be qualities we can cultivate with the help of Ahimsa.

Satya: Truth Satya is all about living with a clear, honest, and grounded view both of yourself and the world around you. When you’re able to see things for what they are, you can accept them as they are, freeing you to experience a greater sense of self-love and compassion for those around you. When we find ourselves continuing to live out of alignment with our principles or truth it will always take a toll somehow.

Asteya: Non-Stealing This is meant in the obvious sense of not taking anything which is not yours. Stealing can be in the form of money, materials, ideas, time, effort. Other forms of stealing can be taking advantage of the situation, not following through on your word, or not putting forth your best effort. Stealing can also be on an emotional and energetic level – stealing someone’s peace or happiness through your words, or being an ‘emotional vampire’ are other forms of stealing.

Brahmacharya: Non-Indulgence This practice includes not over-indulging in pleasures of the senses. Some examples are an over-indulgence in food or physical pleasures like sex, drugs, or even sleep. If you practice Brahmacharya you eat food to stay healthy and not just for pleasure. You enjoy things like sex, shopping, or anything else in healthy moderation. By practicing Brahmacharya, we tap into self-control and self-awareness, and ultimately gratitude and contentment will follow.

Aparigraha: Non-Possessiveness It is so easy to get carried away in the pursuit of the newest gadget or gear. As a result, we waste a lot of time, money and energy on unnecessary things. The idea is to develop habit of non-possessiveness or non-attachment, so we only take and collect what we actually need and shift our focus from lack to the opportunity for abundance. The concept of non-attachment also spans to releasing the need to control, not harboring feelings of jealousy, frustrations or anger.

This first limb of yoga guides us to a deeper understanding of ourselves, our strengths, weaknesses and a broad perspective of what is possible. Take time this week to contemplate where these observances could benefit in your life.
See you on the mat.

– Shauna

About the Author
Shauna Hylenski is one of the owners of LCC plus the Program Director and yoga instructor. She enjoys the opportunity to share this authentic style of yoga practice with the greater LCC community. She has been teaching yoga for over 10 years, and began Shri Studios in 2017. Shauna has now embarked on the adventure of teaching teachers, in an Advanced Yoga Teacher Training that she began with Camp Utopia and Allison Rissel in September of this year. Check LCC’s website for when you can attend one of Shauna’s classes.

Downward Facing Dog

The elusive and often visited posture of Downward Facing Dog.

Sanskrit Name: Adho Mukha Svanasana

This pose is visited in almost all movement oriented yoga practices.  It is an inversion (heart above head) so it is energizing and calming at the same time - isn’t yoga awesome! Here are a few tips to help your next Down Dog feel balanced and relaxed.

  1. Widen your Shoulders: Get your head out of the turtle Shell!  Feel your shoulders reach towards opposite walls. From there you will experience a sweet release of the spine and a little more length.
  2. Soften those “bows”: Slightly bend your elbows to ensure there isn’t any hyperextension or locking in the joint.
  3. Ground down through those hands:  Press the palms into your mat, all 10 knuckles! Even claw the finger pads - why?  This engagement helps to distribute the weight of your body instead of letting it all dump into your wrists.  Ouch!
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Posture Benefits:

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression.
  • Energizes the body.
  • Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands.
  • Strengthens the arms and legs.

Want to learn more?  Check out Shri Studios weekly yoga classes in our beautiful LCC studio.  All classes are free with admission or membership to the Longmont Climbing Collective - what a great deal!  

Get the most out of your yoga class

Tips on how to get the most out of your yoga class

Whether you have been to multiple yoga classes or your new to the practice, stepping into a new class can be intimidating. We are striving to feel open, relaxed, energized and connected. We have invested in the class, carved out the time in our busy schedule and arrived on our mat. But what makes one class feel like a path to enlightenment, and another a struggle to get through? Maybe it isn’t so much about the teacher or the studio, but about what we do to get the most out of our yoga class. Here are a few tips that can help you get the most out of your yoga classes.

Leave the baggage and your phone at the door: Give yourself a break from the feeling of always being on-call. Leave your phone behind when you step onto your mat. You might feel a little lighter and more free just by tuning out so you can tune in.

Don’t eat right before yoga: A heavy meal before yoga is discouraged. This might seem like a no brainer, but can be difficult to manage sometimes. Have a light snack 30 min before class to allow time for digestion and avoid the over-full and bloated sensation while on your mat.

Disclose physical limitations and injuries to the teacher: Students can feel shy about disclosing specific issues in front of the whole class. So advocate for yourself and inform the teacher of your limitations or injuries before class begins. We also provide Hands-On Assist chips at Shri which indicate if you’d prefer to have hands on assistance in your postures - that decision can be changed at anytime throughout class.

Arrive free of expectations: What would it be like to just meet yourself as you are the moment your arrive in class? We can accumulate expectations whether it's in our practice, in our relationships or work life. Being truly present will invite this awareness into your practice and then into the rest of your life.

Practice on your own mat ( if possible): We have beautiful, Prana mats at Shri which are always available for you to utilize. There is something to be said for practicing again and again on your own mat. If you are coming to class regularly you may consider making the investment. Objects that we practice on and around accumulate our prana or energy and will help to bring us into our yogic state with more ease.

Set an intention: You have set this time aside in your busy schedule to practice yoga. What is it that brings you back to your practice again and again? If you set an intention for your practice you can deepen your experience of the breath, postures, mindfulness so that it positively affects you and others during your yoga practice and for the rest of your day - and maybe even longer. Let your yoga light shine way beyond the time on your mat!

Come and check out the amazing classes and teachers at Shri Studios in LCC. We offer 16 weekly class plus special events and workshops. Dedicate some time to you this summer with a regular yoga practice.

What to do about your elbows

This Tuesday, June 4th, at 7 PM Dr. Michael Morrison from Red Hammer PT will be coming in for a free talk on the "bows" elbows.  Here's a short yoga tutorial on keeping your elbows safe on the mat.

In a weight bearing position you will want to ensure that your elbows are not locked. Some of us - including me, have some hyperextension in our elbow joints. This allows further than "normal" range of motion in an extended position. This compromises the elbow joint and doesn't encourage the strength and stability that are necessary for more weight bearing positions such as handstand. What's the fix?

  1. Keep your elbow joint soft. Any locking out of the joints can prove to be detrimental over time, but this can be worse if you are putting weight on the joint.
  2. Rotate the center or eyes of your elbows towards one another. This assists in proper alignment of the forearms and shoulders and keeps your "bows" healthy and strong.

Next time you see your elbows pushing out, remember to take care of your joints - keep them slightly relaxed and strengthen around them from that state.

Expanding our Yoga and Fitness Classes

Shauna and Taylor have been busy expanding the Yoga and Training programs for you!
We are now offering 6 Training classes per week such as the Quick Fix, Core & Mobility plus Strength and Conditioning. And, we have doubled our yoga classes, to give you more of what you are asking for. We have more Restorative classes, morning and afternoon classes as well.

Heal Your Spine

Pain in our low back and hips is all too common and very frustrating.  The spine is our mother-board, if it is not healthy and balanced there are many other effects besides a stiff low back. The nerves that run through the spine are connected to our various systems and organs. So by improving your spine health you can improve your overall wellness.   Here is a list of exercises that provide stability as well as mobility specifically into the low back and hips.

The Hula Sequence

I love this series of movements for isolating the flexion and extension of the spine as well as rotation of the hips.  Standing with feet hip distance apart knees softly bent slowly move the hips side to side without moving the shoulders or head.  Pelvic tilt forward and back bringing some movement into your lumbar spine.  Put it all together, move your hips in a circle.  Moving your hips side, back, side and to the front.  You’re doing the Hula!

All 4’s hips side to side

Lean the hips to one side with an exhale breath and then to the other. Move slowly to allow the stretch of the outer hip to progress slowly. This movement brings the external muscles and tissues into balance.

Cat and Cow / Flexion and Extension

On all 4s inhale drop your belly down, open your chest and collar bones. Look up toward the ceiling. Exhale, press into your hands knees and shins. Then draw your belly up and in and bring chin to chest.

Pelvic Tilts to a Bridge

Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip distance apart. Make sure your toes are pointed straight forward and not rotated out. Begin by tilting your pelvis forward and back with your feet on the ground. This feels like pressing your low back flat and then creating more space and arch in your low back. After a few rounds press down into your feet and lift your hips, move slowly like you are peeling your back body off the ground. Roll all the way up until you only have weight in your feet, shoulders and back of your head. Tuck your shoulders under and interlace your hands together underneath your back. As you exhale slowly release and roll back down slowly through the spine.

Practice these short sequences once a day and you will begin to notice more ease, flexibility and strength in your low spine. Then you may begin to realize there is a ripple effect through the rest of your body and mind. More strength and flexibility, clarity in your thoughts and intention in your actions. Our spine is our main control center.  Keep it healthy, flexible and balanced to experience true freedom.

Climbing Tips – How to Get Unstuck

Training to get unstuck

How many times have you found yourself on a climb needing to make that seamless transition to the next move and you’re stuck?  Is it your strength, your flexibility, your metal state or your balance?  All of these obstacles can be conquered through a regular yoga practice. When you dedicate yourself to time on a yoga mat you will find the benefits translating to your time on the wall.

Flexibility

This seems to be the benefit of yoga that’s the most common knowledge. Opening up your hips and hamstrings is always a popular place to start. Did you know that you can benefit your hands and feet through yoga too? Opening the fascia or connective tissue through regular stretching helps your hands and feet to become more receptive to crimps and tiny foot holds.

Stretch feet

Stretch Fingers Forearms

Mind & Breath

These two keys to climbing are a main focus of a yoga practice as well. On the mat you’re encouraged to bring all of your attention to the present, each breath and movement. This trains your mind so you’re able to call on this skill even when you’re not connected to the ground. Slow, controlled breath not only oxygenates your muscles, but also promotes calm and clear decisions.

Proper breathing

Balance & Strength

When you dedicate yourself to a regular yoga practice you will notice how your balance begins to improve. This enables you to make delicate moves while conserving your vital energy for the power moves. You will also gain balanced strength and flexibility. In a yoga practice you will work each main muscle group, even if the focus is on one in particular. Can you say injury prevention?

The LCC yoga program is powered by Shri Studios, a local yoga studio with highly experienced yoga instructors and programs. You can read more about Shri Studios here.  Shri Studios has crafted the LCC yoga program to meet the unique needs of its growing community. All of the weekly yoga classes at LCC are included in your day pass, punch pass or membership. The workshops and series classes are offered to the public and discounted for members.  Check out a calendar of all our classes and workshops here.

Hope to see you on the wall and the yoga mat!

Shauna