Think about that time in the evening when you are lying in bed and just about to drift off to sleep…try to recall what the breath felt like? any sound of the breath?
You may have experienced the unconscious action of Ujjayi breathing. The Ujjayi breath is a slow rhythmical breath that almost feels like you are breathing directly through the throat. There is a slight hissing like sound that is only audible to you as the breath is drawn steadily but slowly inward and outward.
One of the benefits of this type of breathing include creating a state of deep relaxation. According to Swami Satyananda (APMB 2002) this tranquillising breath is “used in yoga therapy to soothe the nervous system and calm the mind”. In this way it quite helpful in dealing with insomnia.
Ujjayi pranayama also offers benefits in stimulating the metabolic rate and increasing the blood circulation through the body. In some traditions you may be directed by your teacher to practice Ujjayi breathing during the pose.
When you consciously practice Ujjayi breathing you begin by observing the natural breath at the nostrils then take your awareness to the breath at the throat. Begin to slow the breath down so it is long and controlled…slightly flexing the glottis at the back of the throat which narrows the air passage just a little and it will make a sound. Then focus on the sound of the breath in the throat. There is no strain.
The sound may remind you of sound of a baby snoring softly. Ujjayi breathing can be practised in a sitting position in preparation for meditation or lying in Shavasana..to aid in relaxation.
Only practice for short periods of time to begin with and check with your teacher to make sure this practice is suitable for you.
Posted in Meditation, Pranayama, Uncategorized
Tagged breath awareness, deep relaxation, deeping practice, health, prana, pranayama, Stress management, tranquilising breath, Ujjayi breathing, yoga practice, yoga therapy
Perhaps you have been to a yoga class where your teacher has explained something about mudras to you or perhaps this is the first time you have even heard of them…either way an understanding of mudra and how it affects yoga practice can greatly enhance your spiritual experience of yoga.
The word “mudra” is a Sanskrit word that literally means gesture or attitude. A mudra can be psychic, emotional, devotional or aesthetic in nature. The mudra will have an effect on the mind creating a sense of peace, well-being or even a connection to something “bigger” than yourself. From a Tantric perspective a mudra will provide a way of capturing dissipated prana (vital energy) and therefore will calm and introvert the mind helping to create a state that is more conducive to deeper meditative experience.
There are different types of mudras but the most common are those of the hands particularly ….Chin and Gyana (sometimes spelt “jnana”) mudra where the index finger is connected to the base of the thumb or thumb tip and the hands are placed in a relaxed fashion on the knees facing up or down respectively.
In these mudras the index finger represents individual consciousness and the thumb represents higher consciousness. The curling or bowing of the finger to the thumb is symbolic of the desire for unity of the individual with the higher consciousness….the very essence of yoga and life…that of union.
Some of the specific benefits of mudras include:
- bringing awareness to large areas of the cortex – physiologically the hand and the head areas take up 50% of the cortex
- establishing pranic balance (keeping the energy within the body),
- helping to express some of the more elevated states of mind like peace, joy, compassion, devotion, surrender and inner beauty
- linking the yoga practitioner with higher cosmic forces
- deepening awareness and concentration
Swami Niranjananda (Prana, Pranayama, Prana Vidya 1994) describes the activity of mudra in this way ….There can be no expansion of awareness without firstly starting to become aware. During mudra practice, we start to become aware of the thoughts which emerge before, during and after the practice. We are creating fixed, repetitive postures and gestures which can snap the practitioner out of instinctive habit patterns and establish a more refined awareness.
To read more about Mudras try the following links:
http://yogatherapy.org.au/doc/mudras_abstract_poster.pdf —- an interesting study on how hand mudras help to deal with particular health problems
Posted in Mudra and Bandha, Uncategorized
Tagged Balance, deeping practice, Focus, hand gestures, home practice, mudras, prana, Training the mind, Wellbeing, yoga, yoga practice