Yoga: intro to breathing

Yoga

Yep, you thought you knew how to breath.  You were so wrong.

Sit on the floor.  Not indian style with your ankles crossed, but with your legs next to each other, relaxed, knees falling out.  Sit up tall, on your sit bones.  Spine straight.  Head up, neck straight, crown of the head lifted to the sky. Shoulders back and relaxed.  Arms relaxed.  Hands on your knees, palms up.  Hands relaxed.

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Now inhale.  Feel your belly expand.  As you exhale, feel your belly contract, core engages.  Push the air out.  Feel the inhale.  Feel the exhale.  Slow steady breaths. Visualize the breath flowing through your body.  Send the breath to those places that are tight or stressed: your shoulders, hips, neck.  Feel those places expand, making more space as you inhale.  Feel the body relax with each exhale.  Recognize the chest on the inhale, lifting up, filling with breath.  Feel the back expand, making space for more breath, for a deeper inhale.  Lengthen the exhale, it should match the length of the inhale.  Feel the body expand with each inhale.  Relax with each exhale.

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This is the part of the practice where you leave work at the door.  Set aside your stress.  Relax your face, ears, neck, shoulders.  Set your intention for your practice.  Whether that is to relieve stress, find peace, become more centered, find balance in your life, become strong: physically & emotionally.  Yoga is the place you can go by yourself, to meditate & set strong intentions for.  Your practice is what you make it.  It is what you want it to be.  It will become what you intend it to become.  

Next is Ujjayi breath (oo-jaye-ee), the ocean breath. This is breath that creates a sound during inhale and exhale.  You do this by tightening your throat and forcing the air through during inhale and exhale.  Try this: exhale in the way you would to fog the mirror.  It's a kind of forced exhale, with the throat tight.  Now take that same tightness in the throat and do it again, this time through your nose.  It should make a rushing sound.  Now inhale with the same tightness, creating the sound on the exhale as well.  Almost like snoring. Kay?

Now, in your seated position, shoulders relaxed, hands on your knees, palms up begin your ujjayi breath.  Push out all thoughts, send them away.  Concentrate on the breath, the movement of the belly, then the chest.  Feel the back expand.  Now exhale, feel the shoulders relax, listen to the sound, chest falls, belly pulls in.  Inhale, sit up a bit taller, create more space in your chest and belly, send the breath to the shoulders, to the hips, feel your body start to get warm.   

This is the beginning to each practice or meditation.  

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A couple things for this first post:

1.  Breathing is essential.  Do NOT hold your breath during the asanas (poses).  The continued breathing keeps you aware, conscious of what your body is doing.  The movement of the breath connects the movement of the poses.  Do not hold your breath.

2.  Namaste.  This word means “I honor the Spirit in you which is also in me” among other variations.  One of my favorites is “the light in me sees the light in you”.  It is a greeting and a salutation.  It is about peace.  Calm.  Respect.  Each practice ends with “namaste”.  You do this by sitting on the ground, hands at heart center.  Say “namaste”, bow low to the ground.  How far you go is up to you.  How long you hold it is up to you.   

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On that note…

Namaste.

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