Have you ever wondered what a yoga teacher means when they say things like 'Breathe into your pelvis, or breathe into the muscles'? It sounds like they have their own code of talking when explaining how to do a certain posture etc.
You will be in a certain pose, lets say Standing Forward Fold and your teacher starts to say fold forward from the hips and breath into the backs of your calves. You are thinking what does that even mean, I'm just going to fold forward and hopefully I'll be able to touch my toes. You are looking around the room and everyone else seems to be following perfect instructions but for some reason you feel you are not. Well for something like this, this means imagining your muscles opening up and sending the oxygen to that area to nourish it and it gets all the good nutrients to that specific area. This usually happens on an exhale. The more you use your mind and feelings, the more you will be able to open up in that area and fold forward even more.
Another common one is to breathe into the soles of the foot or your big toe. This means to ground down, spreading out the toes and really imagining routing down through to the floor so you are completely centred, feeling strong and tall connecting your body to the earth.
By doing this, using the power of your mind, you will feel more connected to your body and will get more out of your practice.
Let's look at Tree Pose. Think of strong, tall trees, routing you to the floor. Tall strong trees have very long roots so are always so connected to the earth and ground. Think of the sole of your foot routing down, spreading toes wide to connect more of your foot to the earth and really feeling a connection from your body to the earth. The more you have your toes spread out, the easier it is to balance. Think about being a tall strong tree and your roots grounding you down. Send your breath towards the toes, the ball of each foot and the heal. Thinking about each muscle fibre and allowing it to spread down through the earth.
Yoga teachers will also say breath into your belly. This means really using your diaphragm to inhale and exhale to have a complete breath cycle. You are filling your body and lungs with nutrients from the oxygen you are breathing in. This in turn then fuels your body with the right amount of oxygen. For most of us, we tend to shallow breathe. We are then not using our lung capacity to its full potential. Just stop and breathe into the belly. Taking in big deep breaths.
So now you know what all that means. Take that into your next class and enjoy the experience a little more.