All posts tagged Breathing

Ujjayi Pranayama and Hatha Yoga Practice: From Overheating to Effortless Effort

(Continued from last week’s post) THE PRACTICE OF UJJAYI PRANAYAMA In order to practice ujjayi, a subtle shift takes place in the movement of air-flow, which creates a flowing ocean-like sound. However, too often I have seen an attachment to using this breath create deeper tension in both the physical and energy systems of the practitioner, rather than burning up the ego’s sense of separate self-importance. Aspiring yogis may tend to “manufacture” ujjayi, which creates tension and defeats the purpose of its energetic flow. I have spent a lot of time with students and teachers in yoga sessions undoing a block that is created in the physical and energy body from this type of effortful practice. Effort of any kind requires a certain willpower. But where does this willpower come from? Does it arise from our effortless interconnection with nature? Does is come from our idea of what yoga is? Where are we trying to get to in applying it? If this moment contains all we need to fully realize the oneness of all that is, then any use of wanting to get somewhere else arises from a disconnected state that will only perpetuate more of the same. When practicing Hatha yoga of any kind, we need to cultivate witness consciousness, that is, witnessing the arising…

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Does Ujjayi Breathing Make Your Yoga Practice Victorious?

WHAT IS THE UJJAYI BREATH AND SHOULD I PRACTICE IT? In Hatha Yoga, we practice a series of physical exercises intended to purify the subtle energy channels in our body/being, so that we may one day experience a state of non-dual unity, that is, a oneness with the divine energy that pervades all things. The practice begins with mindful, physical exercises designed to open our body and free energy movement in the body/being. As our energy system awakens and clears, we may be ready to practice pranayama. The literally translation of the Sanskrit word “pranayama” is the “extension” or “drawing out” of prana, that is, of life force. It is a series of breathing exercises geared to broaden and expand our field of awareness, so that we may continue an even subtler purification of the body/being. Through my years of teaching YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine, I have noticed that some students and teachers who have come to my classes and workshops tend to use a particular breathing technique known as ujjayi breathing during their practice. Translated as the “victorious” breath, ujjayi is intended to aid in yogic mastery, which ultimately is over the ego and our illusory perception of divisiveness. Some Hatha yoga styles such as Ashtanga and Vinyasa encourage the practice of ujjayi breathing…

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