About Salty Yoga in North Myrtle Beach .
The breath plays an important role in a yoga practice. According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the breath is said to carry our vital life force, also known as, Pranayama. The root word of Pranayama, Prana, is not only the breath, but the energy the breath creates.
How often are we truly aware of our breath? It’s something we come into this world instinctively just knowing how, yet rarely does it ever become the focus throughout our day.
There are so many benefits of simply breathing fully, so how to we do this effectively? While there are several techniques that offer specific benefits to both the mind and the body, we will explore all aspects of the breath. It’s quality, rhythm, depth, pace, and location. When we simply bring awareness TO the breath, we automatically change its state to a fuller, slower breath.
Here are a few tips before beginning your Pranayama practice:
- Be patient and practice
- Never force or restrict the breath. Again, be patient and practice. It will come.
- it’s always a good idea to have an experienced teacher guide you through these methods, but are your body’s own teacher. You be the judge.
Here are a few techniques we will explore:
•Dirga Swasam Pranayama or 3 part breath, is often the first technique that is taught to yoga students. The three parts of the breath are the abdomen, diaphragm and chest. This technique focuses on inhaling fully, first filling the belly, the ribcage, then the chest. Then exhaling completely, by reversing the pattern (chest, ribcage, belly). It is encouraged to place on hand on the belly, one on the chest to feel the air entering and exiting the body. It can be done sitting tall or lying down. This technique is also calming, but allows the oxygen to properly flow the blood vessels, reducing strain on the heart and lungs.
•Ujjayi (you-ja-yee)- meaning “victorious breath” it can also be called “ocean breath” because of the sounds it creates. It’s used to calm the body and the mind and is used during the asana (Pose) portion of class.
Sitting tall, we inhale and exhale through the nose, building heat and energy in the body. It is important to use the full expansion of the lungs, allowing the maximum benefits of oxygen to reach the body. As we breath in and out, slowly and fully, there may begin to be a slight constriction in the back of the throat, creating an ocean-like sound. Continue inhaling and exhaling, matching them in length for at least ten rounds.
•Nadhi Shodhana (Nod-ee show-dunna) or alternate nostril breathing isbused to relax the nervous system and promote a restful night’s sleep. It also increases the amount of oxygen taken into the body and can purify the blood, calm the mind, reduce stress, ease allergies and sinus congestion and increase concentration.
This can be done seated or lying down, but begin by emptying the lungs fully. Using your dominant hand, fold your index and middle fingers down (these represent ‘the ego’). Block your right nostril and inhale through the left nostril only. Then seal your left nostril with your ring finger and exhale through the right. Inhale through the right, close off the right nostril, exhale through the left. Continue this pattern up to 10 cycles, ending with the exhale out of the left nostril. Slowly release the hands down and breathe naturally for a few rounds.
In closing, hopefully you’ve gained some awareness of what the breath is actually capable of. It’s calming, replenishing, energizing, and gives our bodies truly what they need. So, take a little time to find a quiet space, sit and simply breathe.