When we are learning the art of teaching yoga, you will notice that you may be taught certain ways of cueing breath, such as, inhaling on an upwards movement, and exhaling on a downwards movement, or inhaling in the stretch, to perhaps create more space and length, and exhaling during the release, to perhaps dissolve tension and invite in a sense of surrender and letting go. These teaching tools are to support you in the beginning, as you navigate your own authentic style of teaching and cueing breath. They are not the only way to cue breath.
Some teachers cue breath with more invitational language, such as, “What would it feel like to breathe into the back of your ribcage while lying on the floor?” or “Can you invite breath into your lower belly here?” Some teachers cue breath from a somatic approach, such as, “breathing in, let your lungs help lift your arms overhead.” or “breathing out, feel your feet spreading and widening into the floor.”
Your Yoga Flow Teacher Nancy writes: “When I first started teaching I probably cued the breath in a more directional way (inhale here, exhale here) but now my breath cueing is much more invitational/somatic (can you feel the breath in your rib cage, where do you feel the breath moving in your torso). I often teach a few rounds of even and uneven breathing at the beginning of my classes so that students have some time to explore gently manipulating the breath to feel how/if it shifts things for them. I start with a more directional approach (breathe in and out through your nose, and count the breath) and then let the students have their own experience of their breath. When I first started teaching I would practice with friends and family and this helped me gain confidence and figure out what worked for me and for the people I was teaching.”
A great place to start when you are trying to figure out how you might like to cue breath in your own classes is to recognize how you breathe when you are practising and what feels good in your body. Another option is to take note of classes you attend that you enjoy, and how the breath is cued in those classes. This can help you find your authentic offering and create classes where breath cueing feels natural and effortless for you.
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