The saying ‘breath is life’ rings true in such a profound way, but how often do we consider applying the power and gift of it?

Vanessa Safajou from Misty Moon Yoga said yoga is such a helpful way of using your breath to control things like stress, and that it’s not just about stretching muscles and flexing joints.

“When you come onto a yoga mat, in a yoga class you actually breathe with purpose and with intention, which is so important because it does so many amazing things,” Vanessa said. “It calms the nervous system, it slows the production of stress hormones, and helps the body go into its mode of rest and digest, where the body goes to heal.”

Stress can cause feelings of being overwhelmed or being unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure, and Vanessa said when we feel this way or are in a high-pressured situation our bodies naturally respond with a fight or flight reaction.

“That’s what your body is meant to do, it’s meant to react and think quick in those moments, but a lot of us live really hectic lives so there’s a lot of that high intensity and not much time of slowing down and resting – so that’s what yoga really helps to facilitate,” Vanessa said.

She said that being in a fight or flight mode a lot of the time can be detrimental to us.

“You’re having a high heart rate, more of those stress hormones and your body is not designed to function for long periods of time like that,” Vanessa said. “You have your high intensity moments, and then you need your moments when everything is chill, everything is OK, we feel safe, and our bodies can do its stuff to repair.”

There are three types of yoga classes available at Misty Moon Yoga - Yin, Mellow and Flow. The Yin and Mellow classes are a gentler form of yoga, where you are sitting or lying down most of the time. Yin is about time held in stillness, a very passive, resting-in-poses-on-the floor class, and Mellow is an introduction to the foundations of yoga, a breath-led gentle movement, where there is not a lot of weight bearing on the hands.

Flow is a more dynamic and challenging practice for those who have experience with yoga, but available for the complete beginner too. Vanessa has a background in playing football and tennis, and when she started doing yoga to help her with her tight muscles, she loved it because it made her feel ‘amazing and connected’ to her body.

Then she started teaching yoga six years ago. “My yoga teacher took me under her wing and taught me to become a teacher, and I just haven’t looked back since then,” she said.

Vanessa has a message for those unsure about going to any yoga class.

“If the thing you have in your head is that you're not flexible enough, that’s precisely the reason to go and try a yoga class,” she said. “It’s one of the few modes of movement that is accessible for every kind of body, and it teaches you ways to get to know your own body a bit better and to know how to move in a way that makes you feel good.”

Vanessa, who is based in Katoomba, does online classes now, but plans to expand into having her own space in the near future, with an exciting announcement ahead.

Check out her website: and book some of her cheap as-chips online classes while they last.

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