Pranayama breathing

Meditation is a challenge for me. I close my eyes and then the thoughts come leaping into the frontal lobes of my brain creating ideas, scenarios and shopping lists. I am truly at my worst when it comes to bedtime, I close my eyes and suddenly thoughts from the days over and the day ahead fill my mind and I become instantly restless and conversational. When it comes to meditation I am fighting my mind to keep quite, keep still, NOT THINK. But I have since discovered that it’s OK to let the thoughts come, the trick is to let them crop up and dissolve them quietly with no disturbing effect. Don’t link these thoughts but to let them turn into a whisper so as not to disturb you from quite stillness. Be aware, don’t play dead.

Through attending the 200hour teacher training course I have discovered numerous types of breathing techniques that can be used in quietening the mind and relax the body in preparation for meditation (or even sleep). The idea is to control the breath, ultimately expanding it, to give you mental and physical benefits just by sitting still and concentrating on breathing.

We need fresh oxygen to be delivered to every part of body to help with function and movement. It is our most vital source of energy in-fact as most of us cannot go without fresh oxygen for even as long as 5minuets. Where as food and water can be days. Toxins such as stale air and carbon monoxide need to be removed as we exhale.

With most pranayama (not all) we need to breathe in through the nose. This first helps remove external debris in the air that we breath and it is easier to control a smooth deep breath than using the mouth as it has more channels to pass through on it way to the lungs and in turn warms the air more. As we breath out through the nose again it retains the heated air from our lungs which overall keeps the body warm. This is an important part of asana practice as when the body becomes cooler it also becomes less flexible.

Ujjayi breath is used throughout asana practice and one of the first forms of Pranayama we need to master. Breathe first with the mouth open and hear the air being pushed out with a slightly tighten throat making a hhhaaaa sound. Now breath the same but through the nose and with the mouth shut. You should hear the noise of the air being controlled and squeezed in and out. Almost sounding like the sea rushing up and over the shore. This controlled breathing slows the breath down and strengthens the diaphragm reducing your blood pressure which ultimately reduces wear and tear on the internal organs resulting in a longer life. The external and internal intercostal muscles will become stronger and more agile with practise allowing more air intake with each breath.

Ujjayi breath is also known as the victorious breath. It energies you and relaxes you as you listen to the rhythm focusing your mind. Astanga Yoga allows one breath per movement creating a pulse you can follow with graceful effect.