Asanas and Breath:
The two frequently asked questions in my yoga classes are:
- How to co-ordinate asanas with breath, and
- Should we use ujjayi (sounding) breath when practicing asanas ?
I recommend the following:
- In any posture where you feel expansion of the chest, such as when stretching the arms upward or sideways, doing backward bend, cobra etc., inhale as you go into the posture.
- In any posture where you feel contraction in the tummy, such as when doing a forward bend, sideways bend, twist etc., exhale as you go into the posture.
- Keep breathing while you hold a posture.
- If you go into a posture with an inhalation, come out of the posture with an exhalation and vice versa. For example, inhale as you go into a backward bend, keep breathing while you are holding the posture, breathe in just before coming out of the posture and exhale as you come out of the posture.
- There are certain positions where a teacher may ask you to hold the breath. In that case holding of the breath is intentional and serves a purpose. But don’t hold the breath unintentionally; it is a sign of unnecessary tension in the body and mind.
- When you are not sure whether to breathe in or breathe out, don’t worry about it, just breathe normally.
- Take deep breaths and keep the face and throat relaxed. Taking ujjayi (sounding) breaths continuously for a long time can be tiring and you may end up contracting your throat a little too much, which can restrict the proper flow of breath.
- Before you begin your asana practice, you can do some ujjaayi and bhastrika pranayamas, both are energizing and they generate some sound that helps reduce chattering of the mind. But when doing your asana practice, keep the breath long and quiet. This will enhance the quietness of the mind. If you keep breathing with a sound, the mind may not settle down and, when in a class, it may be disturbing to other students. When practicing at home, you can try both ways and see which way you prefer.
Saint Kabir’s advice for a seeker: “With each breath remember God. Who knows this may be your last breath!”, says Kabir, a mystic poet and saint who has been a great influence and source of inspiration in my life.
Sri Sri Yoga Teachers Refresher.
Many of you are wondering if I am planning to travel and teach this year. I am planning to conduct couple of refresher courses for Sri Sri Yoga teachers this year. The first one is scheduled to be held at the Canadian ashram in Montreal, November 16 – 23. Another one will probably be held either in India or Malaysia sometime in December or early next year.
Enjoy breathing. It will bring contentment.