Ashtanga Yoga

Nov 7, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Healthy Living, Matters of Heart

Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory. Unlike other forms of activity (or exercise) yoga teaches perseverance, patience and most of all, it enhances our ability to focus. I find indulging in yoga breathing exercises helpful when tired or mugged down from too much work. Yoga breathing can re-fuel your creativity levels, as your mind and body relax and become disconnected from the surroundings, allowing you to explore the wonders of your own mind without any outside interference. There are six breathing exercises that can be done while practicing Ashtanga Yoga, the most common (basic) breathing of them all is called Uddyanah Bandha.

In words of the great Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh, “You don’t have to do anything very special. You just become aware that you are breathing in and breathing out. Breathing in… I know I am breathing in. Breathing out… I know I am breathing out. And I enjoy my in breath, and I enjoy my out breath.. this is the essence of life.. and suddenly, I find that I am truly alive, truly present – and this, everyone can do.. and it make a big difference. Our true home is in life, and life is in the present moment: the here and now.”

1. Ujjayi Pranayama 

Also known as Oceanic Breathing, this exercise mimics the sound of the ocean. It is the first in the series of Yoga Breathing. Relax yourself when you fold your feet and sit in the lotus position. Ensure your back is straight and your shoulders loose. Take a deep breath and then slowly exhale, pushing your tongue against your throat. This results in a hissing sound which is also known as the ajapa mantra. This breathing exercise helps quiet the brain, pushing all unnecessary worries to the rear as it slows the flow of the breath leaving the body.

2.  Nadi Shodana

This breathing technique is also referred to as Alternate Nostril Breathing, and can roughly be translated to “channel breath”.  If you are constantly stuck in a stressful routine which is sucking all the creativity out of you, this is just the routine for you as the Nadi Shodana helps in calming the mind and reducing stress, promoting clear thinking as it clears the left and the right brain hemispheres.

3. Svara Pranayama

Focusing on the five basic elements of life, this technique is also known as “Sound Breath” as it requires the pushing out of air during exhalation, creating the sound of breathing out forcefully. This technique restores focus and concentration, and is a great way of putting all your unnecessary worries to rest.

4. Surya Vhedana Pranayama

A modification of Nadi Shodana, this is Single Nostril Breathing. It has been scientifically proven to de-stress the mind and clear out blocked energy channels, which helps calm one down.

5. Kapalabhati Pranayama

If you find yourself lacking in concentration, bending under stress and a lot of workload, you might want to try the Kapalabhati Breathing Technique to bring your focus back. Centered on abdominal contractions, this technique focuses on cleansing the mind and body of all negative energy and thoughts. Sitting in the Lotus pose, relax your abdominal muscles as you breath in, feeling your abdomen expand to the fullest; and then begin to contract it over and over, ensuring that the last vestiges of breath has gone out of you before you start again.

6. Viloma Pranayama and Anuloma Pranayama

Two stages of the same technique, Viloma and Anuloma Pranayama represent paused inhalation and paused exhalation exercises – with Anuloma undertaken with one blocked nostril and one partially blocked nostril. These exercises cleanse the nasal passages, providing ease of breathing and inducing calmness within the breather.

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