Practice the Fundamentals
Athletes do it. Musicians and singers do it. Professionals of all types do it. They practice the fundamentals of their craft. Repeatedly. No matter how proficient they get, they go back to the fundamentals, the basics, continually honing their skills. There’s something comfortable about going back to the basics. It’s reassuring.
Breath is fundamental to the practice of yoga. We practice this fundamental by:
- continually bringing attention to the breath while practicing asana and pranayama
- observing the quality of the breath
- noticing where the breath is in the body
- using breath to bring our attention inward
Today we’ll explore two tools that help us practice these fundamentals.
Ujjayi is a phenomenal technique. It’s used in both seated pranayama (breathing) and asana (posture) practice, and its purpose is to help us stay focused and attentive. Other benefits include:
- deepening and lengthening the breath
- relaxing the mind
- invigorating yet calming the body
Although it’s possible to practice Ujjayi breath lying, sitting and standing, it’s better to try it initially either sitting or lying.
- Take several easy breaths through your nose to begin to relax and bring attention to your breath
- Eyes are closed or softly focused
- Slightly constrict your throat muscles and visualize breathing through an imaginary hole in your throat
- Continue inhaling and exhaling while keeping the throat muscles slightly constricted
- Feel the sensation of the breath in your throat rather than nose
- Your breath will make an ocean like sound as it moves in and out
- Breathe slowly and deeply, listening to the sound of your breath until you are ready to release this technique and breath normally
Embrace the Pauses
There are four parts to a breath: inhale; pause after inhale; exhale; pause after exhale. Bring your attention to your breath and begin to notice these four parts, especially the pauses. The pauses can be very subtle and ever so slight. Play with it. Discover how each breath arises from the pause and use these pauses to breathe more consciously.
We’ll use these two tools next week as we practice Anuloma Ujjayi.
Happy Valentine’s Day and Breathe Easy!
Health is a precious gift and my goal is to help you live a healthier, happier life through yoga. Every private session is uniquely designed just for you. For a free telephone consultation call me at 303.818.4181. Discover whether personalized, private yoga instruction is right for you.
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