To put it simply, yoga makes me feel things. Sometimes it’s strength or relaxation, and other times when I’m standing on my hands in crow pose, there are no words to describe that kind of feeling. There’s so much good yoga can do for the body, soul and mind. The mind is more of a personal journey, whereas everyone can relate to the physical body, one way or another.

Yoga makes you feel good because it clarifies the mind. It gives you the freedom to let someone else think for you, to trust. Yoga builds confidence by building strength, but only as much as you want. One of the best parts of practicing yoga is that you don’t have to force yourself. Yoga is for everybody. The practice is yours.

So, why go to a class? Yoga was designed in the Eastern world, according to Bree, so you could get your body to a state where you could relax your mind — so your body wasn’t agitated. The thought is, if you’re body is agitated, so is your mind. You can practice yoga with the goal being meditation, but in our culture, we like to exercise. We like to know we’re getting a workout. It’s undeniable yoga is an exercise. You’ll become stronger and more flexible the more you practice.

What makes yoga different is that you’re pairing every movement with a breath. You become aware of your breath and it moving through your entire body. You tap into yourself 100 percent. The secret of yoga lies in the movement of the spine in all directions. These movements increase blood flow and joint range of motion, making it good for things like arthritis and inflammation. There are modifications you can drop to if you’re coming back from an injury or if your body just doesn’t go that far. Yoga is individualized — even if you’re in a group.

Breanna Tivvis has been leading my flow at Yoga Mix on Tuesday nights for about a year now. She’s not only taught me about yoga, but indirectly taught me a lot about myself and shown me what I’m capable of if I concentrate and set my mind to it.

I’ll leave you with a mantra Bre uses in class that has resonated with me recently. “Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu.” The loose translation is, “May all beings in the world be happy and free and may my thoughts and actions attribute to that happiness and freedom.”

6 Poses Your Back Will Thank You For

This one goes out to all the desk workers out there. Sure, we love our jobs … but our backs don’t. Sitting down for an extended period of time tightens our hips and lower back, causes stiffness in the shoulders and neck and can even lead to anxiety. Here are a few poses you can do at home when you get off work. Remember in inhale and exhale through the nose with slow, deep and controlled breaths.

Yoga

1. Child’s Pose

Forehead to the floor, knees spread apart or touching, toes touch. Lengthens the spine and lets gravity do the work.

cat&cow

2. Cat and Cow

Palms flat, shoulders stacked over wrists, hips stacked over knees. Inhale, drop the belly and look up. Exhale, round the back. This flexes and extends the spine in a fluid, controlled motion.

down dog

3. Downward Dog (Uddabahdi)

Push heels to the ground, lengthen back, engage core. Hold for 5 breaths.

rag doll

4. Forward Fold or Ragdoll (Uttanasana)

Loosens the lower back from the hamstrings. Can be passive or active. Grab opposite elbows for a deeper stretch.

half moon

5. Half Moon (rear leg should be extended)

Inhale, reach up. Right hand grabs left wrist. Hips go to the left, arms stretch to the right. This pose moves the spine, compresses one side while lengthening the other.

chat

6. Vinyasa Flow (Chaturanga)

This is a 3-in-1. Start in high plank. Exhale and lower slowly to the ground, keeping elbow tight to the ribcage. Inhale, pulling chest through straight arms, knees off the mat, compressing the lower back (upward dog). Don’t sink into the lower back, press to life up out of it. Exhale step back to downward facing dog.

Bre’s Recommended Yogi Playlist