Affirmation of the month:
"I am submerged in eternal light.
It permeates every particle of my being.
I am living in that light.
The Divine Spirit fills me within and without.”
Scientific Healing Affirmations by Paramahansa Yogananda
The Importance of Proper Breathing in Yoga
Last month, we talked about proper alignment in the poses and all of the benefits that come from proper alignment. This month, we will discuss the importance of proper breathing and aligning your breath with the movements of the poses.
Yoga poses incorporate the practice of pranayama exercise into your routine even though you may not be aware of this. Prana is the life force found everywhere in the universe and yama is control or regulation. By using the proper breathing technique, you can begin to become conscious of your prana and the manner of its flow through the body during the various poses. Over time, you will begin to take conscious control over this cosmic energy that is underlying all of creation, including your body.
When prana flows strongly and under your conscious command, it brings vitality and youth to the parts of the body where the yoga poses send it. This is accomplished by gathering and pooling the prana, then bathing in the energy. Then you will find within yourself and at your command, true strength, power, and vitality. You can draw upon this limitless source of energy and recharge the body with vitality like charging a battery.
Mindfulness and the conscious use of your willpower during yoga practice is key to energizing the body with prana and for directing that prana to the places where you need the strength and vitality it will provide. The student is to regard the flow of prana as the most important aspect of yoga practice rather than focusing on the physical body alone. All of the benefits of yoga are related to the proper flow of prana during yoga practice.
Ujjayi pranayama is an excellent variation of diaphragmatic breathing (in which you consciously push out your stomach on the inhale and bring it in on the exhale) to be used while practicing yoga postures because it increases and circulates prana throughout the body and gives you strength and stamina. It is also used in sitting position before meditation to energize the body.
(a) Close mouth and open the glottis while inhaling, to generate a soft aspirated and non-vocalized "SHAAW" noise at the back of your throat. The inhalation should be 10 seconds or more, using the diaphragm so that the belly rises. Do so with your lips closed and do not use your vocal cords. Although you do not breathe through the mouth, you do feel it in the throat. A slight hissing sound or the sound of the ocean means you are practicing correctly. A "Darth Vader" sound is correct but exaggerated.
(b) Exhale through your nose for 10 seconds or more, using the diaphragm to empty the lungs with the belly returning inward. As you exhale, continue to restrict the glottis to make an aspirated and non-vocalized “SHEEE” noise. The exhaling and inhaling breaths will be equal in count, in a rhythmic pattern with a natural pause between inhalation and exhalation.
(c) Do not force your breathing or hold your breath. Find your level of comfort and then stretch it just slightly beyond. You must not be gasping for breath; but instead your breathing is serene and slow, synchronized with the movement and stretches of the postures so that you are reaching slightly farther with each stretch of your body and with each inhaling and exhaling breath. Generally, on the outward, downward, and relaxation movements, you exhale. On the inward, upward, or tension movements, you inhale. Each student's intuition should be the guide.
Quotation of the month:
“God made man in His image. All those who know how to receive Him, can realize the sleeping divinity by expanding the powers of the mind. Being children of God, we have dominion over all His things in the universe, even as He has.”
Whispers from Eternity, by Parmahansa Yogananda
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