Support A Steady Yoga Practice: The Art of Sitting

simply sitting

“Perfection in an asana is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless and the infinite being within is reached”. – Yoga Sutras.

Learning to sit peacefully with the breath is founded on the postures of yoga. Yoga asana is performed so that the body is able to sit comfortably  in stillness. Pranayama or breath control is the fuel that sustains us to stay steady in our bodies and minds.

In the practice of yoga it is important to find a restful seat. Using a wall, a chair or other props to keep your spine upright is suggested if your hips or back muscles are weak or tight. Another method for learning to sit on the floor is to gradually introduce the muscles to the practice.

Here are my tips for crafting a comfortable seat: Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: The Art of Sitting”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Elongate the Breath with Four Simple Techniques

waterfall-828948__340

The great sea
Has sent me adrift,
It moves me as the weed in a great river,
Earth and the great weather
Move me,
Have carried me away
And move my inward parts with joy.  – An Eskimo Song

Now that we have created breath awareness and discovered some new ways to expand our breathing vessel, let us address the quality of the breath. This week, I will introduce some simple techniques of pranayama or breath control.

Here are four methods for elongating the breath:

#1 Ujjayi Breathing

This approach can be described as a slight deepening of the normal breath.  It is best done from a supine or seated position in which your body is nicely aligned.   Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Elongate the Breath with Four Simple Techniques”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Expand Your Vessel & Truly Breathe

opening breath

“Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings.” ― Rumi, The Essential Rumi

As students of yoga, we eventually learn how to connect with our breathing. We come to understand that the simple act of inhalation and exhalation can be enhanced when our posture is aligned. As we physically straighten, we open ourselves up to experience a fuller range of movement in the upper chest/back, ribcage and abdominal areas.

In an attempt to expand our vessels for the breath, here are three key strategies:

#1 Counteract “Techno – Hump” 

computer-15812__340

Using computers and cell phones can adversely affect our breathing function. The head forward position can lead to a spinal curvature disorder called kyphosis which compresses the movement of air by collapsing the chest.

Here is a short posture sequence for reducing upper back tension and straightening the body:

Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Expand Your Vessel & Truly Breathe”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Discover Your Breath

awareness

As we continue to explore the poses and our breathing practices, we are expanding our level of awareness. We are learning to pay attention. We are discovering what it is to be in the present moment. And, it is in the present moment that we experience our true “state of yoga.” It is where we see our connection and remember who we are. 

The fourth limb of the yogic system is pranayama or breath control. It is made up of a range of techniques that begin with simple awareness and continue on with more intensive control approaches.

Although pranayama is an integral part of yoga, the practice is not generally taught until a student is comfortable resting with their breath in either a supine or seated position. In this way, a student learns to relax completely in order to receive the breath.

Breathing practices give your mind focus – you virtually tune in when you pay attention to your breath.  This can occur whether you are in a resting pose or actively performing the asanas. As many teachers will tell you, “if it is not with the breath, it is not yoga.”

A good way to begin the practice of pranayama is to focus on your belly breath: Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Discover Your Breath”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Breathe

happiness-1866081__340

“Pranayama has slowly pried open some of the tighter places in my body and so provided me with new openings in my asana practice. This, in turn, affects my breathing and, so on and so on, asana and pranayama oscillating back and forth to each other’s advantage.” – Richard Rosen

Pranayama or breath control is defined by B.K.S Iyengar as: “… techniques to make the respiratory organs move and expand intentionally, rhythmically and intensively. It consist of long, sustained subtle flow of inhalation, exhalation and retention of breath.”

With the guidance of some of the world’s wisest yoga teachers, I have made it my quest to incorporate pranayama into my practice. Breaking down the art of breathing into separate stages has helped me to gradually meld it into my daily yoga routine. Over the next few weeks, I will share my personal journey towards pranayama with you. Here are the four main categories we will explore: Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Breathe”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Combine Effort & Ease

“Focus your attention on your breath. When your mind wanders, simply return your awareness to the inhalation and exhalation. You don’t need to empty your mind or have perfect attention. It is the act of noticing mental distractions and bringing the attention back to the breath that lends the mind steadiness (sthira) and ease (sukha).”

How do we keep ourselves physically challenged yet safe? Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Combine Effort & Ease”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Seek Integration

yoga-3053488__340

“As you bring your hands together at your center, you literally connect the right and left hemispheres of your brain. This is the yogic process of unification, the yoking of our active and receptive natures.” 

The definition of yoga is to yoke, or join together. This week, we start to explore the ways that we can develop a more integrated yoga practice. We will begin with three easy techniques for uniting the main components of yoga: Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Seek Integration”