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Don’t Forget to Breathe

One of the words that I say the most as a trainer and yoga teacher is “breathe.” And I cannot tell you how many times I have had clients thank me for the reminder because they realize they were holding their breath while they were working. A couple of weeks ago I had a yoga student come up to me after class and tell me how much it helps them that I cue inhales and exhales consistently through class. And just today I was teaching a private to a client who brought his eight year old daughter along. She was trying to do a balancing pose and I softly reminded her to breathe. She looked up at me after the pose was over and said, “You know, breathing really helped me do that pose better.” It was so sweet.


One of the things that I emphasize most in my classes is breath and expansion. Learning to really deepen your inhales and exhales and use that to steady and calm yourself. It’s unbelievably powerful. I took my favorite yoga teacher’s class last week and had the honor of practicing next to a friend and fellow teacher. He has very strong and steady breath when he practices (in a nice soothing way, not in an overly exaggerated way) and having that steadiness next to me really grounded me and calmed me. Then I received an amazing assist from my teacher where I could feel her deeply breathe with me. After the assist I felt like I could float on air.

There is so much power behind our breath. I encourage all of you to think about it more both in your workouts and in your daily life. Especially when you’re breathing through something difficult…a heavy rep, a challenging arm balance, a hard conversation, a stressful meeting at work…or anything else that might make your heart beat fast and your breath quicken. Take control of slowing yourself back down and focusing.

I received a request for new yoga music, so here’s a playlist that I put together recently and have been really loving.

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 7.08.58 PM

Favorites include…

– The Light
– Out of Mind
– Nobody to Love
– Memories That Call You
– Changes

Talk to me about breathing. Do you find yourself holding your breath often when you’re working out or stressed or are you mindful of it? 

{ 19 comments… add one }
  • Karen August 1, 2014, 9:44 pm

    Thanks for the great reminder on the importance of breathing and I do enjoy it when you cue us on when to inhale/exhale during yoga. It helps the flow of the poses, the ease of movement, and the release of emotional and physical tension in my body. When I catch myself in a stressful situation (and it’s usually when I’m trying to over plan/schedule every step of my day or week), feel my trapz tighten (which means a migraine to follow), and my heart rate rising, I can sometimes rectify it with slow and deliberate relaxing breaths, and closing my eyes.

    Love your yoga music; so different and refreshing!

    Good luck with your new running column.

    • Jen August 4, 2014, 2:32 pm

      karen – i love your focus on breath and realizing that it can help with your headache triggers. i’m glad you enjoy the music. i put a lot of time into finding new stuff!

  • amy August 1, 2014, 10:08 pm

    Took a Johnna class not too long ago and the music didn’t work. I thought for sure I was doomed. All I had was my breath, and it was one of the most fluid, focused practices that I’ve had in my short time doing this. I’ve noticed that the emphasis that you and others put on the breathing in class transfers into life in so many ways. Thanks to all of you! 🙂

    • Jen August 4, 2014, 2:33 pm

      love, love, love practicing without music sometimes. especially in a room of people. so powerful!

  • Brooke@sweetnsweaty August 1, 2014, 10:17 pm

    I have to remind myself constantly! While working out or just in life in general! My Mother got me a beautiful handmade necklace with the word breathe engraved! I wear it everyday!!

    And I agree I need my yoga teacher to remind me of my breath. I also like when I walk in she. Says ” you are present, I see you” seemed odd at first and now I utilized it to find my presence and slow down to enjoy life and it’s beautiful moments!

    • Jen August 4, 2014, 2:33 pm

      i LOVE what your yoga teacher says. that’s beautiful. thank you for sharing.

  • Krystal Sterling August 1, 2014, 10:50 pm

    I have experienced the same moment when a yoga teacher assisted me in a pose and our breaths aligned. I wish I practiced yoga more! Sometimes I feel like I don’t have faith that my breath alone will work. Thanks for this simple reminder!

    • Jen August 4, 2014, 2:34 pm

      girl, your breath is one of the things keeping you alive. it works and use it! <3

  • Ali August 1, 2014, 10:51 pm

    Hi Jen!
    I have been following your blog for 4+ years now. Crazy how time has flown! I have loved following your journey.

    The real reason I am commenting is because I wanted to thank you for helping me discover yoga. I flirted briefly with yoga at a gym that had classes, but fell out of it in favor of dedicating my time to lifting and because I didn’t really like the teachers. Recently I wanted to give it another go because a lot of fitness bloggers I follow rave about it, including you. So I signed up for a 10 pack at Yoga Pod (Boulder, CO) where I live until I move on Monday. From my first class I was hooked. I especially love hot- the feeling of being drenched in sweat, loose muscles, and the poses. In regards to breath, I have definitely noticed I am more aware of my breath in other parts of my life- crossfit, or just tackling my day. It makes all the difference! It is also a wonderful compliment to strength training. After a hard workout I look forward to yoga, knowing I will feel so much better.

    So again, thank you. I plan to continue to pursue yoga for the next 2 months in Vegas (where I am from) and in New Zealand (where I am moving for a year). I hope to take a class from you one day! xo

    • Jen August 4, 2014, 2:35 pm

      hey ali,

      THANK YOU for taking the time to comment and you have no idea how much what you shared means to me. if i can do nothing else by writing this blog than inspire someone to try yoga or go out for a run, then that is enough.

      i hope our paths cross one day and good luck in new zealand. what an incredible adventure.

  • Fiona August 1, 2014, 11:30 pm

    Its so true!! I just started practicing yoga and always love and appreciate the reminder to breath!!! Even during my weight class I find focusing on breathing helps you gain more control over each movement or set!!!! Thanks for being that positive reminder as an instructor!! 🙂

  • Pam August 2, 2014, 8:26 am

    I love this beatiful reminder of the importance of the breath. I too que inhale and exhale when I teach. It helps me and my students! I am so going to try yolo before summer is over! Looks challenging and fun!

    • Jen August 4, 2014, 2:37 pm

      you will love it pam, i know!

  • Tarah @ Seeds of Clarity August 2, 2014, 8:53 am

    It depends what I have going on in my life and how stressed I am.. but I do try to be mindful. I catch myself not breathing while running a lot when I feel super anxious! Progressive muscle relaxation has really helped me in times where I have been really overwhelmed with my thoughts. Great post! 🙂

    • Jen August 4, 2014, 2:37 pm

      tarah – yes to progressive muscle relaxation. it helps me so much too.

  • Joanna August 4, 2014, 10:56 am

    I hold my breath constantly, in day to day life and in exercise classes. Breathing has been one of the most difficult things about yoga for me, mostly because it probably takes a little while to realize what a difference it makes. It’s SO challenging me for to even take a really deep breath in and slowly let it out. I’m just not used to it!

    • Jen August 4, 2014, 2:36 pm

      i agree! i encourage my students to count even inhales and exhales to the count of four or five at the beginning of class to get them in a rhythm. and if you lose it, come to childs and come back to that breath before rejoining the class.

  • Hillary | Nutrition Nut on the Run August 4, 2014, 4:16 pm

    That is such a fun photo of you!

  • erin August 5, 2014, 10:25 am

    your playlists keep me going!!!! thank you!

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