To find steadiness and ease in your yoga practice, the best place to begin is with your breath. The breath acts like a gauge of your practice. When the breath is labored —quick and shallow— this is a sign that you are pushing too hard, or not letting go enough, in your postures. When the breath flows long and steady, without interruption, your practice is where it should be. Let your breath guide you in this way.

By bringing your attention to the breath you are able to connect to the true essence of your practice. In fact, yoga practice begins with the breath. Let your breath be the first place you go in any asana. When you begin with the breath, and build from there, your practice will take on a new quality — an all-encompassing completeness that fills your entire practice, just as a full breath fills your entire lungs.

Think about it. Do you ever find yourself holding your breath during a challenging yoga posture? What might happen if instead you breathed through it? By checking in with the breath again and again, you will begin to notice how you use the breath, and you’ll learn how to cultivate the quality of ease as you breathe. In this way, your yoga practice itself will take on a quality of ease, and from there will you build the foundation of steadiness.

In today’s world, we are very much outward-focused. Paying attention to our breath is an afterthought, if it’s even a thought at all. Yet taking a moment to check back in with the present by checking the breath-gauge will not only take your yoga practice to the next level, it can bring a sense of ease in your life off of the mat.

Whether in yoga class or during a busy day off your mat, let your breath be the gauge that helps bring you more ease and steadiness. In your yoga practice, try to begin each posture by checking your breath. Off the mat, write the word “breathe” somewhere noticeable, and each time you look at it stop and take a moment to notice your breath. Then see where this practice takes you.