Angelina Vasile shares with us about the power of breathing properly in your yoga practice and your daily life.
How did you come to find yoga?
I was a dancer and came to Pilates through my dance studies. I quickly got interested in injury prevention and recovery in my Pilates teaching. I started working in a more specialized manner; teaching healing movement through the Pilates practice. I decided that I wanted to broaden the vocabulary with which I could talk about healing, and it seemed like Pilates only went so far. So yoga was the next step to talk about the integration of physical healing with emotional and mental aspects.
Where did you get your yoga training?
I trained with Ana Forrest in 2007. Her yoga is a Hatha-based yoga that caters to modern-day culture, to the sort of modern physicality that we have of driving cars and sitting in desks and working on computers. The poses are really tailored. We do a lot of neck stretching and wrist stretches. Those are very specific things that Ana Forrest has developed to address our modern-day culture and posture. That aspect of it really spoke to the intelligence of anatomy and alignment that I was used to with Pilates. When I found Forrest Yoga, it was a really quick, easy fit. It was intuitive and intelligent.
The breath and the strengthening piece (physically and emotionally) was what I needed for healing in my own body. I was pulled apart in all different directions. The Forrest Yoga breathing is what really helped me to heal. There is such an emphasis on breath and cellular chemical shifting when you breathe deeper. I didn’t know about injuries in that way. When I was working with injuries in a Pilates way. Yoga with Ana Forrest is about being really connected to your breath as a tool to change and shift physically, emotionally and spiritually.
What healing issues have you seen are most common in your classes?
Most people don’t breathe. When I first did my yoga training with Ana Forrest, I didn’t know how to breathe, and I had been a Pilates teacher for 7 years. Pilates is all about breath, too, but I didn’t learn how to breathe until Ana Forrest clearly spoke the physical things you need to do to actually take a deeper breath.
How do you feel breath helps the healing?
A tight muscle or injured muscle, or scar tissue, is oxygen deprived. So, the way that you can heal injuries or create spaciousness or loosen tight places, whether they are physically tight or mentally or emotionally tight, is to specifically breathe into them. Initially, the easiest place to breathe into is our core. Some people are belly breathers, and some people are chest breathers, and some people know how to breathe their entire core. That’s the goal is to be able to breathe from your root, from your pelvic floor. To inhale into your pelvis and to breathe all the way up into the top of the lungs and the collar bone so that the whole core is oxygenated.
What that does, it brings circulation, it brings blood flow, it brings vitamins. Oxygen relaxes your brain. Most of our tension in our neck closes off oxygen flow into the brain. So when you relax your neck and deepen your breath, your brain gets messages of relief and release and you’re more apt to go into parasympathetic nervous system, which is the opposite of sympathetic nervous system, which is your fight, flight, or freeze response. Most people in our modern day culture live in fight, flight or freeze. That’s how we operate. So when you deepen your breath and you expand your torso in a three dimensional way, that creates more resourcefulness for the intelligence, not just of your brain, but the intelligence of all the other systems of your body.
So healing becomes a lot quicker and easier because there’s more space for it physically and cellularly; the cells aren’t contracting, they’re expansive. We make better choices from a place of relaxed, or a place of ease and spaciousness.
Also, in terms of the breath, your inhale is your up-level, your inhale is your nourishment, your inhale is your food for your cells. Your exhale is your detox, your release, your letting go, or your grounding. So when you focus on those two things happening within the course of one breath, you get an up level of mindfulness of what you’re doing that makes the benefit bigger. As opposed to just inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. Inhale, feel your body get more spacious, feel your body get fuel. Exhale, feel your body relax or get grounded or release tension. When you bring a consciousness to the breath, it actually up-levels the amount of benefit.
What are you the most excited to share with people about yoga?
Yoga is a very honest and visceral way to experience yourself. It’s accessible through your breath and feeling is available through paying attention to what you’re doing. I feel like it should be fun. We need to explore more care and self-worth and delight and beauty in our bodies.