I am starting this short Series on Pranayama Techniques today. I will be elaborating the short description of the techniques with short videos that you can follow, try and practice with me, we will be moving from a shallow to a longer and more complex breath practice. We will set foundations and we will understand when and why we practice pranayama. I hope you will enjoy this series.

We will be discussing:

  1.  What is Pranayama?
  2. Refining the Flow of the Breath. Puraka/Rechaka Breath Inhalation /Exhalation
  3. Ujjayi Pranayama Throat Breath 
  4. Deeper Practices :
  5.                                  Vritti Pranayama (Sama/Visama Vritti) Equal/Unequal Fluctuation of the Breath)   
  6.                                   Kumbhaka (Antara /Bahya ) Retention of Breath
  7.                                   Viloma    Irregular interruptions of the inhale/exhale 
  8.                                   Kapalabhati Breath that energizes
  9.                                   Bhastrika Fiery Bellows Breath
  10.                                   Sitali Cooling Breath
  11.                                    Anuloma /Pratiloma Delicate Regulation of Breath
  12.                                    Suryabheda Stimulating Vitality
  13.                                    Chandrabheda Calming Energy
  14.                                    Nadi Shodhana Alternate Nostril Breading Techniques  – Basic Nadi Shodana, Nadi Shodana with Viloma Pranayama, Nadi Shodhana with Kumbhakas , Nadi Shodana with Viloma and Kumbhakas, Nadi Shodana with Kapalabhati Pranayama.

Part 1 

Starting today with What is Pranayama?

Pranayama or the Conscious Breath is the source of the energetic awakening of the body. I love the concept especially when the practice of pranayama is connected to the practice of asana of the actual poses we link together during a class. Within this connection, our mind-body connection is strengthened via the force and control of our breath. The energy of the connection that is created can be felt during and after the practice.

Imagine the breath we cultivate as the source of the energetic awakening throughout the body. At the same time is this breath awareness that disappears the moment we start practicing asana and this happens especially with new students. New students tend to lose focus, their attention drifts away hence is pranayama that learned correctly can always draw us back to the breath and as a consequence draw us back to the present moment, the here and now.

Pranayama is often viewed as breath control it can also be viewed as a liberation of breath or an expansion of the life force through breath.

Pranayama is more than a set of breathing practices, it is a tool for expanding our reservoir of energy, we are directing, we are lengthening, we are regulating the movement of the breath. We conduct an orchestra of changes that have their origin in these practices of pranayama techniques.

The concept of Bodymind is a very interesting concept. In limiting or restraining the pranic energy through the techniques of pranayama we connect the mind with our body, a connection that is very important in Hatha Yoga.

The point of the practice is to explore asana with and through the steadiness and ease of the breath and continuously connecting the breath with the body-mind.

Pranayama’s benefits are the improvement of digestion and elimination, the improvement of the circulatory system and plays an important role in the respiratory function.

We will start by cultivating Basic Breath Awareness by usually lying on our back or sitting crossed legged. While here WE DO NOTHING BUT OBSERVE WHAT IS. The natural breath varies depending on the state of mind of a person, of their physical, spiritual, mental and physical condition.  Depression, Anxiety, Lethargy, Weak or tight Respiratory Muscle are conditions when the breath becomes shallow, inefficient and it does not rely on the diaphragm.  

While Lying down or Sitting  Crossed Legged follow the following steps while observing your breath. Notice how the changes in position affect these observations and how gravity plays a role. You can make this observation also during the flow of an asana practice.

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Observing the Breath when you Inhale ask  these questions:

How does my inhalation feel like? How do I feel the breath? What parts of my body are moving Does the flow of my breath speeds up, slows down or stays the same during my whole inhalation? What does my inhalation sound like? How fully do I inhale? Do I still have more space left to breathe in? As I draw the breath in how does my face feel? How does my chest or belly feel? What fluctuations do I sense in my mind as I inhale?

When filled with breath ask these questions:

How do I feel at the top of my inhale?What is the length of my natural pause? What sensations do I feel in my body when my breath is full?

In observing the breath when you Exhale asks these questions:

When I start exhaling where do I first feel the movement? Does my breath tend to rush out? Is the pace of my exhale changing as the exhalation continues to flow out? What changes do I feel in my body as the breath leaves it during the end of exhalation? How completely do I exhale? What fluctuations do I sense in my mind?

While empty of the breath ask these questions:

How do I feel when I am empty of my breath? How long do I tend to hold my breath out? Do I pause or do I flow immediately into the exhale? Is my awareness changed when I am empty of the breath? What fluctuations do I sense in my mind?

Tomorrow we will continue with Part 2: Refining the Flow of the Breath.  I will add a video to the Part 1 so you can practice with me Breath Awareness. Thank you for reading this.