Saturday, January 30, 2010

Utilizing your Breath to Decrease Tension and Anxiety


You will hear me talk about the use of breath in my DVD’s, in my yoga class and in my horsemanship classes. There is a huge reason for this. I have experienced deep personal results by better utilizing my breath. It has been one of the most powerful ingredients to changing my levels of stress, anxiety, tension in my body, the way I interact and react in tense situations, my ability to stay present, confidence in riding, and the relationship with my horse. So, this will be one of many blogs on breath!

Yoga brought to me the ability to recognize my breath patterns and help me reformulate years of unconsciously holding my breath when I would feel anxious, stressed, fear etc. I did not even know that I was holding my breath until I was able to do two things. 1) Make using my breath a habit on the mat. Really drawing on my breath with each movement 2) Test myself and force the breath in real life, harmless, stress provoking situations such as driving in the car and thinking about the presentation I have to give that day to executives, an important interview or a conflict that stirred emotion in me. I would drive to work allowing myself to think about that presentation I had to deliver and notice what was happening with my breath. What I noticed was yes, I was holding my breath so I would exercise myself by beginning to think about the upcoming presentation, begin to feel the anxiety, notice I was holding my breath and just begin to deeply breath, using my Ujjayi Pranayama breath. This could take me 20 minutes at first.. by the way, I had a 45 minute drive to work J. I made this a practice day after day, for months until I found that I shifted my pattern of holding my breath to deeply breathing and it is interesting how “just breathing” has transformed the way I view and act in various stress provoking situations. The situations that truly caused me major stress a year ago, give me little worry today. When it does, I engage my breath. This absolutely transfers to building confidence under saddle as this becomes a habit for you. Notice over time, how your anxiety levels begin to decrease, you are able to stay more in the moment and you are able to be more of a partner with your horse.

There are different methods of breathing you can utilize, I utilize Ujjayi Pranayama breathing. Deeply Inhaling and Exhaling through your nostrils with a slight constriction in the back of your throat. It will sound like an ocean to you and it is audible breath. Practice better utilizing your breath religiously on the mat and begin to engage the breath in harmless stressful situations and just notice what happens. Make it a practice daily.

If you have one take away from getting to know me, breath is it!

Let me know how you are coming along in your practice and what you are noticing in your everyday life and horsemanship. Join ZennerYoga facebook group and post your progress or write me with questions at This will help me help you and others at the same time!

Be Blessed,

Theresa Zenner

Friday, January 22, 2010

Where do I start?

This is my first blog on ZennerYoga and the purpose of the blogs will be informational. I want to share with you tips for success, answers to student questions, helping you along as we face challenges along our journey as well as share good news stories! The intent is to help lead you toward improved confidence, reduced anxiety and stress, learning how to let things “go”, staying in the moment, and really opening up our body and mind. As you see yourself evolve you should see that translate into your everyday life and also in your horsemanship journey: moving toward improved balance, lighter communication and improved confidence.

I received a question from a new student a few weeks ago that asked me, “As I watched the lesson on the poses, I realize I do not know most of them. I also realize I am not in quite good enough shape right now to do them all. Would you suggest I work on learning the poses or muddle through the workout and do the best I can?”

We all must begin somewhere! The reason I developed Level One Vinyasa Flow Yoga was for students to start! As Nike says “Just Do It”. Several of my students come to my class not knowing the postures and at an entry point can do some of the postures better than other postures and in some cases can’t do some of the postures at all. It takes time for your mind and body to open up so you need to allow yourself to start, allow yourself to learn, allow your body to feel awkward. It is all a part of the process! If you are in the same situation as this student, what I recommend is to take the first several weeks and physically do the instructional portion of the video only. Do the poses along with my student Judith as I instruct, they are postures only not the flow so it will not move as fast as the asana practice with me in a later chapter. Starting this way, will allow you to start absorbing the actual posture and better hear my words on alignment, also take the posture booklet to the mat with you. I designed the booklet so that you can take it to the mat and help you visualize the postures in a still photo rather than on video. I would do the instructional portion of the video 2 or 3x/week and additionally, yes Additionally, at least 2x/week find yourself a comfortable seated position and view only the asana practice with me. I want you to breathe with me using your Ujjayi Pranayama breath, concentrate only on your breath and imagine yourself performing the postures rather than me. When you feel you are ready begin doing the practice yourself, just start! Always remember to listen to your body and take shorter stances if needed, don’t go as deep into a posture and always feel free to take child's pose, reconnect with your breath, and rejoin the practice when you are ready.
This is what that same student wrote to me yesterday!

“I have the postures figured out and can hold that downdog for as long as you.....some of the time. It is still hard for me to breath right and to move from pose to pose with any kind of grace. It is tough to go to the low plank. My arms are not quite strong enough yet.
Thanks for a good DVD.”

Remember this is a process… your journey… take the time it takes!

Let me know how you are coming along in your practice and what you are noticing in your everyday life and horsemanship. Join ZennerYoga Facebook group and post your progress or write me with questions at This will help me help you and others at the same time!

Be Blessed,

Theresa Zenner