"Be aware of your breathing ... notice how this takes away from your thinking and creates ... space" - Eckhart Tolle
Breathing is the most important part of a yoga practice. Your breath in yoga is your compass and your energy. In yoga we refer to the breath as Pranayama breath, prana meaning “life energy or life force.” By learning how to breath, you affect your life energy. By changing the breath we can directly change how we feel. Your breath is your ticket into your present moment. The breath is the best way to check in with yourself, create awareness, and garner mindfulness - and the best part - this amazing power is always with us. When you INHALE ... these are opportunities to stretch, extend or grow longer in your pose. When you EXHALE ... this is where you can deepen and sink into your pose. Your inhale welcomes and invites the new. Your exhale releases that which doesn't serve you. By learning how to breathe and pay attention to your inhales and exhales, you can practice connecting your mind, body and spirit. Over the next 2 weeks we will delve into the common forms of yoga breath and how each of these can support you, your practice, and your life.
"Deep breaths are little love notes to your body."
Victorious breath, known as Ujjayi breath, is a foundational breath in yoga. It is an audible breath built on strength and useful in guiding you as you move from pose to pose. This breath heats your body from the inside out.
You may find this breath is reminiscent of the ocean. Ujjayi is done through the nose only, with the lips sealed. Let’s give it a try.
1. Find a comfortable seated position, sitting up tall, place one hand in front of your mouth. Imagine this hand as your mirror that you will fog up using only your breath. 2. Take a full breath (inhale) in, exhale fogging up your mirror. Repeat this for several breaths to hear this ocean sound and feel connected to this breath work.
3. Now, gently close your lips and take your next breath through your nose.
4. Exhale this time making the same “fogging the mirror sound” with your mouth closed. 5. Repeat this breath cycle for a couple rounds hearing this ocean sound and feeling this breath in the back of your throat.
6. To complete this breath cycle, in your last exhale allow your lips to open and exhale - releasing this air out and returning to your normal breath rate.
A Ujjayi breath cycle can guide your yoga practice like the engine in a train … Your breath is your compass.
"Master your breath ... master your mind."
So many of us are chest breathers, going through our whole lives utilizing only our lungs and upper chest to breathe. This creates a shallow, unenriched breath. And some of us aren’t even aware that there are other ways to oxygenate your body.
With the three-part-breath we can delve our breathing deeper into the "big three" - the belly, chest, and throat. The balance and control of your of inhalations and exhalations allows your mind to be calm and soothe your nervous system.
Remember to seal your lips (breathe in and out of your nose only):
1. Finding a comfortable sitting position, place one hand on your belly and one over your heart.
2. Exhale all the air out of your lungs. 3. Begin your next inhale from the base of your belly. You should feel your belly pushing out against your hand as you fill up with air. 4. Allow the air to fill your chest and lungs. 5. Finally, allow the air to fill your throat space.
6. Exhale slowly now, moving in reverse, releasing the throat, chest, and finally, the belly. You should feel your upper body collapse as you empty out the air.
7. Repeat this breath cycle 5 times.
Notice the pure power coursing through your veins from all the life giving oxygen.
"Fill your body with deep breaths and it will fill you with peace."
In Alternate Nostril Breath, we are utilizing one nostril at a time to complete our breath cycle. The power of Pranayama is alive here with this breath as it’s both strong and even. This evenness allows for a calm mind, mood, and balanced emotions.
1. This breath incorporates a mudra for both of your hands. First, let your right hand come to rest on your right thigh. Bring your left hand up curling your pointer and middle finger into your palm. Leave your thumb, ring finger and pinky extended up. This imitates a "hang ten" shape.
2. Take a moment to take 2-3 deep inhale and exhales here.
3. On your next exhale, gently press your left nostril closed with your thumb, allowing the exhale to flow out of your right nostril only. 4. Inhale through your right nostril.
5. Use your ring finger and thumb to momentarily close both nostrils.
6. Release your thumb and exhale from your left nostril, while gently pressing into your right nostril with your ring finger. 7. Inhale now through your left nostril.
8. Again closing off both nostrils and holding, then releasing your ring finger and exhale 🌬 from your right nostril. Continue this for several rounds.
9. End on your right side with an exhale and as you complete this practice allow your hands to fall to your thighs and gently breathe naturally for several breaths.
Breathe and embolden your awareness. How do you feel? Namaste.