Incorporating Mindfulness and Breath Work into Our Daily Lives by Yanti Amos
This weekend I reached out to Yanti Amos, founder of Earth Yoga NYC, yoga and karate instructor and Lululemon ambassador about mindfulness and breath work.
How do you define mindfulness and how do you incorporate it into your daily life?
Mindfulness means to bring yourself back to the present moment, while avoiding being caught up in the past or the future. Sure you pay attention to your thoughts and feelings, but you do so without judgement and criticism. We can do this through the power of the breath which is discussed below.
In teaching mindfulness and yoga, I try to get people to consider how they are going to change behaviors and habits. Yale University has a great online course I recommend to friends and students called The Science of Wellbeing (in Coursera). It's a very practical way of taking stock and asking yourself where you are in terms of your own happiness and how much you can potentially change for the better. Even if you don't have time to do the course or use their ReWi app which builds accountability and tracking, you can still ask yourself some simple questions.
- What are my goals and what are the obstacles to change? How can I overcome them?
- Am I exercising? If not why wouldn't I want improved moods and an improved immune system, reduced stress and lower blood pressure?
- Am I moody and short tempered? If so, am I getting enough sleep?
- Am I sitting and going inward for 3 minutes a day? (aka meditation)
- What am I grateful for? Am I savoring and reviewing/appreciating it while my happy thing is actually happening?
- Am I making a social connection with friends and new people? Am I showing them and others kindness when I interact?
Don't worry you don’t need to address all of these questions every day. Start by choosing one and reflecting, maybe journaling and asking yourself why a thing you love or appreciate makes you feel good. For example, if I am working on savoring, I might say ‘I love my mom's banana bread.’ I might observe that I love it because of its flavor and texture, the smells in the kitchen, the laughter around tea and long glasses of milk; the tradition of baking every weekend. Maybe what I'm really saying is I love my mom, her cooking and all she's done for me and my family. The discoveries and reflections are endless.
By asking yourself these sorts of questions each day around what brings you joy, you automatically begin a mindfulness practice. It's absolutely about you but it's no longer a selfish pursuit about individual egotistical "joy", rather it is about how you can easily enrich your relationships by being a kinder more balanced mindful you.
Can you please describe the breath work you do? And why it is helpful?
The power of breath can help us to be in the present and to be more mindful. It instantly initiates the relaxation response by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
An easy and quick technique which helps bring you back to calm is the Take 5 technique from Cory Muscara.
- Open your left hand palm face up. On an inhale (through your nose), take the tip of your right index finger and start sliding it from the base of the left wrist up your left thumb. Slide it back down and slowly exhale (through your mouth). Do the same for the index finger, middle finger, ring finger and pinkie finger. Don't be in a hurry. On each up movement you inhale and on every down movement you exhale.
Another technique I do in the morning and afternoon is called Nadi Shodana. Nadi refers to the channel or flow of breath or energy through the body. Shodhana is a Sanskrit word meaning purification. In the yoga world Nadi Shodhana is an alternate nostral breath technique which is used to calm the mind before a physical practice. It's known however to be equally useful before an exam, an important meeting or help with sleep. It's easy to practice.
I wish you luck on your mindfulness journey and to being more present!
Yanti Amos is the Founder of Earth Yoga NYC, a popular boutique Vinyasa yoga studio on the Upper East Side in New York City. She opened the doors of Earth Yoga NYC in 2009. In April this year she sold the studio and accepted a role as a lululemon Ambassador with the E 66th Street store. This role allows her to travel and nurture her growing global community. She is eager to share the lululemon message of "The Sweat Life" by connecting, growing and learning with her communities, whatever their time zone or geographical location.
Regular teaching of both yoga and Shotokan karate takes her on jaunts across Europe, Asia and Scandinavia where she supports her husband Richard in leading his group of 20 member countries.
Linked in: Yanti Amos