Tag Archives: pranayama

Small summary on the yoga time in Goa

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This was the first time when we went in March, on season, usually our timing is after Monsoon, in August, when everything is green, no people, peace and cleanliness. To summarize that point, I prefer off season, especially if you are planning to do yoga and meditation.

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However, it was great!!! Every morning started with Sun Salutation – Surya Namaskar 12 rounds, Pranayama, Chanting. You get energize for the whole day with such routine. Just remember, never do mechanically: not asana, not pranayama, not chanting. Be aware, learn about yourself, learn about your body. Observe, and many times you will find the answers, why you cant go more deeper in certain asana, why one day you are more flexible than other, why doing pranayama today was easier than yesterday or opposite. Its amazing how much we dont know about ourselves, discovery of our own self is incredible.

Everyday some reading, I chose a book “Prana and Pranayama”, I recommend to read this book to people that are interested in details about pranas, different pranayama, respiratory system…very well written book. What I like about that book, it has many research there, many examples.

I  get many questions about Surya Namaskar. How to do it? Fast or slow? How many rounds? What is one round? What type of Surya Namaskar is better?

So, you can start with 6 rounds with the classical hatha yoga Surya Namaskar, if you dont have enough strength, start with 3))) However, find dedication , do it every day, dont allow obstacles as laziness, or you can read about obstacles in Yoga Sutra, 1.30, its 9 obstacles over there)) Slow or fast?! If you need cardio work, or warm-up, or you want to lose weight, do it fast…If done at a slow pace, it can help strengthen and tone body muscles. Remember, to breathe!!!

Just numbers, but good numbers –  12 rounds of Surya Namaskar is 288 poses that you can do in 15 minutes!!

Love and Light!

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Introduction to Pranayama, part 4

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Though many pranayama techniques are not that difficult physically, sustaining a practice and developing the mind can be tricky. Here are six pointers for getting started, and for improving, sustaining, and deepening your practice.

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Steadiness of body: The body must be comfortably motionless for a prolonged period of time, and yet support alertness, breath control, and mental focus. Asana practice is essential for pranayama, partly because it’s nearly impossible to maintain a balanced, still, comfortable sitting posture for any length of time without it. Just as importantly, asana activates and integrates the flow of prana, helps us develop the capacity to direct prana with bandhas (energy locks), trains the body to breathe diaphragmatically, and develops sensitivity to inner states of being. Preferred sitting postures for pranayama are sukhasana (easy pose), svastikasana (auspicious pose), and padmasana (lotus pose), but sitting on a chair is also an option.

Diaphragmatic breathing: Just as your sitting posture is the foundation for the body in pranayama practice, diaphragmatic breathing is the foundation for the breath. This is where deliberate training of the breath begins in earnest. Don’t assume that because you have been practicing yoga for years, you are breathing diaphragmatically. Our breathing patterns are typically subconscious—controlled by persistent habits that are out of our awareness.

Balanced lifestyle: Avoid too much or too little food, too much or too little sleep, and too much or too little mental and physical activity. Be regular in your lifestyle habits. A fresh, nourishing diet is particularly important.

Mental/emotional stability: emotional balance: “To get the benefit of pranayama, you must be steady in thought, speech, and action. Without some measure of contentment in life, pranayama brings misery.”

Regularity: In general, the benefits of yoga accrue from consistent, systematic practice for long periods of time. “If one practices pranayama continuously for a year, he is sure to attain wisdom,” writes Swami Rama, a modern master who demonstrated extraordinary control over his body’s autonomic functions. “With regulation of the breath,” he continues, “karma acquired both in this life and in the past may be burnt up.”

Inner focus: Success in yoga depends on this. Becoming sensitive to the flow of breath, the subtlety of the breath, and finally the suspension of the breath, leads you to awareness of the force behind the breath—prana. Awareness of prana is the thread that links you to deeper states of mental awareness, independent of the physical body and the senses. This is the beginning of mastering the mind.

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to be continued…

 

Love and Light!

Introduction to Pranayama, part 3

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To understand the yogic breath, we have to observe the natural breathing in an infant. As babies we breathe naturally, without any distortions. If you look at a baby during sleep, the breath is slow and rhythmic. The belly goes up and down, expanding and contracting with ease. This is a fully relaxed breath.

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When we are relaxed, we breathe from our abdomen. When we are tense, the breath tends to be short and comes from the chest and the neck region. The contraction and expansion of the abdomen is caused by the diaphragm moving up and down. The air is only filled in the lungs. But the belly movements are caused by a pressure difference due to the movement of the diaphragm. A full deep breath happens when the diaphragm moves downwards causing the belly to expand fully, along with the chest and the neck region.

What causes unnatural breathing habits?

Yogic breath is not just breathing from the belly. It is a complete breath. A complete breath involves breathing from the abdomen, chest and neck. This is the natural way to utilize the full capacity of the lungs, which includes abdominal expansion, thoracic expansion and clavicular (neck region) expansion.

Now, this relaxed full breath can get disturbed when we are tense or stressed out. During stress, we tend to breathe more from the chest and neck. Over a period of time this may become a habit, and we forget the natural relaxed way of breathing.

Natural breathing is also distorted by bad work postures. Observe yourself when you are working on the computer and see how different postures affect your breathing. By observation and awareness of our movements and postures, we can correct these postures and develop natural, healthy breathing habits.

It is also observed that women tend to breathe from the chest and neck during pregnancy. This is natural, as the diaphragm will make adjustments to its movements to accommodate the additional weight of the fetus. What happens is that after pregnancy too, many women tend to breathe from the chest and neck (clavicular breathing) due to this acquired habit.

All this can be easily corrected by creating awareness and practicing complete yogic breathing.

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“Three-part deep breathing is the foundation of all the yogic breathing techniques,” Karunananda says. “Studies have shown that you can take in and give out seven times as much air—that means seven times as much oxygen, seven times as much prana—in a three-part deep breath than in a shallow breath.”

to be continued…

Love and Light!

Introduction to Pranayama, part 2

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As we learn what is Prana from previous article, today it will be about Pranayama)) as a whole!!

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Pranayama was originated over 6000 years ago in India and is the breathing technique of yoga that works wonders in increasing physical and psychological performance. The ancient yogis and rishis studied nature in great details. They noticed that animals with a slow breath rate such as pythons, elephants and tortoises have a long life span, whereas those with a fast breathing rate – dogs, birds, rabbits live for only a few years. From this observation they realized the importance of slow breathing for increasing the life span. Ancient yogis discovered that breathing is the physical part of thinking and that thinking is the psychological part of breathing))) Each thought you think changes the rhythm of breath and each breath changes the rhythm of thinking. So, when we are happy and peaceful our breathing is Rhythmic, but from the moment we are disturbed with the stress or fear our breathing is irregular and interrupted. Ancient yogis noticed the relationship between breathing and mental activity and realized that by controlling breath, we can control mental activity – and…..thus, the art of Pranayama was born))) with various techniques which regulate breath…however about that in a different article)))

To summarize what is Pranayama?! We know its a fourth of the  eight limbs of yoga that described in the Yoga Sutras. The word Pranayama compound of two words: “prana” and “ayama”. Where Prana divided into “pra” – prefix ans “an” – to breathe, to live. As we know from previous article, Prana is life force or the cosmic vital energy and Ayama means to stretch, to control, to expand. We can say that Pranayamas control, increase and channelize the energy potential into a positive direction. By doing Pranayama or regulating breathing movements one can attain a healthy body and mind.

In the Yoga Chudamani Upanishad, it has been stated v.31: One who knows the significance of the ascending and descending of jiva(inhalation and exhalation) is the knower of yoga.

Scientists found out that many times due to effects of the wrong breathing habits, a person can have: nervous instability, numbness of the fingertips, craving for the stimulants and drugs, headaches and sleeplessness. Another research shows that the snoring and mouth-breathing is the cause of incomplete respiration. The good news is that with the proper breathing methods we can rejuvenate the decaying body and organs.

Some interesting facts to end today article)))

  1. We take our first inhalation when we arrive in the world, when we are born and the last exhalation when we die.
  2. We take about 21 600 breaths each day usually without giving the process much thought!!

Think about it)) and practice Pranayama!!

Love and Light!

Introduction to Pranayama part 1

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A yogi measures the span of life by the number of breaths, not by the number of years. – Swami Sivananda

One of my favorite quotes, that how I would like to start today’s article. First  I will write about prana….What makes any motion possible: the blink of an eye, the splitting of atoms or the fall of a meteor? Thousands of years ago, the yogis that were living in Himalayas fathomed the inherent quality of motion in creation and they called it prana. Prana, to translate means energy or vital force, however, the word prana assumes the quality of “livingness”. From the yogic point of view, the entire cosmos is alive and throbbing with prana. Everything, all beings, living or non-living, exist due to prana. The Kathopanishad (2:3:2) said: This whole world – whatever there is – vibrates having originated from prana. In Hatha Yoga Pradipika (2:2) we can find out: When prana moves, chitta (consciousness) moves. When prana is without movement, chitta is without movement.

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Often, the word prana is translates as breath, however, prana is not the air that one breathes. Yogis have proved that one can stop breathing for long periods of time and yet continue to live. I love the story about disciple of Saraswati, from Rishikesh. With the disciple scientists did experiment in USA, by putting him in glass room with no air supply, closed his ears and nose, put wax all over his body, that his skin cant breath and scientists ask the disciple to play tabula. In the same room with the man, scientist put lid candle and a monkey))) In 3 minutes candle went off, in 15 minutes monkey fainted, however, the man continue to play on tabula for another 40 minutes. Researchers put a coin on the shaved head of the disciple and notice that coin was popping up and down. Also, they placed microphone against different parts of the body, and everyone could hear aloud constant sound like that of a waterfall. That sound was a movement of prana, that explains one continues to live as long as the pranas are active, even if one stops breathing.

To end today article, it will be again the quote:

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Yoga on menstrual cycle(part 2)

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Yoga it is not just asanas, its much more..pranayam, meditation, kriyas or cleansing techniques, yoga is a way of life. So, last article was part 1 on the yoga on menstrual cycle, and today is part 2.

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We will go more deeply to understand what to do and what to suggest to our yoga students, or if you are a yoga student))) its good to have a knowledge on such topic.

Lets start))) Pranayam on menstrual cycle. What pranayam helps us with?! It helps to balance the emotions and calm the mind, can also help one to deal with the pain. Most important you need to remember on period do not strain with the breath, no kumbakh and no bandhas…because it will increase heat and redirect the prana in the upward direction! Do you need that? Definitely not.

Deep breath is very beneficial, especially in Pond Pose (Tadagasana – lying on the floor with bend knees) or Shavasana. What types of pranayama is good to do on menstruation days: Bhramari (Humming Bee Breath), Anulom Vilom, Ujjayi (Victorious Breath), Sheetali ( cooling breath throught the tongue) and Sitkari (cooling brath through the teeth).

Avoid fast breathing, pranayams such as: Bhastrika (Bellows Breath), Surya Bhedan (Right Nostril Breathing), Kapalabhati (Frontal Brain cleansing) and Agnisar…as it may cause heavier bleeding and will put excessive pressure on the abdominal region.

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Its very therapeutic to do meditation on Om, do Om chanting or chanting of personal mantra. You can try simple meditation on the breath. The practice of inner silence is a technique where one observes ones thoughts called Antar mouna, very good to do on your menstrual cycle. However, I found Yoga Nidra  is the most soothing practice in this time, let go, surrender, relax, and be aware of the present moments))

Another question can arise about cleansing practices. Most cleansing practices should be avoided: Kapalabhati, I am repeating again, Vaman and Shankhaprakshalana. Still you can enjoy Jala Neti and Trataka practices.

Menses is a natural time of cleansing and rejuvenation, traditionally accompanied by a time of rest or light duty. A woman’s menstrual cycle is actually the time when she is undergoing intense cleansing, rejuvenation, and detoxifying processes.Love yourself, embrace the nature, be the Light!  Take care of yourself during your period. Do the things that you enjoy.

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Love and Light!