Breath and Movement

My ultimate asana practice allows the effortless flow from pose to pose through the synchronization of breath and movement creating a state known as meditative movement.

Ujjiya breath, also known as victorious breath, is a breathing technique that constricts the throat during inhalation and exhalation, creating a sound like waves breaking on the ocean.  The inhalation is puraka and the exhalation is rechaka.  During the inhalation the lungs are fully extended and the exhalation is active.  The inhalation builds heat in the body and increases the oxygenation of the blood  creating energy for the muscles which helps to provide much needed stamina during asana practice.  The exhalation is relaxing which allows us to relax as we settle into and hold a pose.  Ujjiya breath creates even inhalation and exhalation and should be consistent throughout the asana practice.  It is these qualities of ujjiya breath that facilitate a mindless state during asana practice.

Ujjiya breath is used to transition into and out of positions during an asana practice.  An asana pose is initiated on the inhale and completed during the exhale.  The pose is held for five glorious breathes during which I am transformed .  Synchronization occurs as I inhale, I am lifted up into the pose just as the wave is pushed by the ocean onto the beach.  On the exhale I settle into the pose effortlessly grounded by the movement of the breath.  As the breath releases I feel like I am pulled from the beach back into the ocean.  During the next five breathes I am not holding the pose I become the pose as the wave becomes the ocean.  As I merge with my breath the movement of the breathing is the movement of the wave.  The inhale is  building strength and the exhale is lulling me back to the ocean where I lose myself and feel my body floating, moving with the ebb and flow of the ocean.  Finally on the last of the five breathes I inhale with the strength I have gained to begin a new pose which is like the new wave crashing onto the beach.  With the exhale I become the pose just as the tide pulls the wave down back into the ocean where is becomes the ocean just as my five breathes are the ocean.

In order to achieve a mindless state during asana poses you need to be familiar enough with the asana sequence and each individual pose to perform it without thinking.  Or you need to be able to hear a teacher lead the practice without listening to what is being said.  Your gazing point, or drishti must be firmly held but you should not be gazing at the point but looking through it.  Basically you should be mindless, relying on you senses not your mind.  The breath is the tool for synchronization allowing the effortless flow of the body known as meditative movement.