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Posts Tagged ‘Hatha’

Yin Yoga and the Breath

Posted on February 1st, 2015 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

By Sarah Powers

 

Yin YogaUsing our natural intelligence to focus on our breath and mobilize the distribution of prana throughout our body is called pranayama, which is an enhancement discipline that involves three aspects: inhalation (puraka); exhalation (rechaka); and the gap between, or suspension of breath (kumbhaka). By varying our respiration and holding our breath, we enhance the quality and mortality of the prana within. When practiced skillfully, yoga exercises for breathing have physical, energetic, and mental benefits. Physically, they help oxygenate the blood and strengthens our digestive, eliminative, circulatory, and respiratory systems. Energetically, a pranayama practice helps balance, concentrate, and harmonize the flow of prana within us. When our energy is imbalanced, our prana is dissipated and weak, often resulting in unpredictable and dissonant emotions that leak out in uncontrolled, chaotic ways. A yogi, on the other hand, is described as someone whose prana is contained within the center of her body. Her emotional life is rich and her mind is clear.

In pranayama, we attempt to reduce the amount of prana that leaks out and enliven the quality of energy existing within us. This is not possible without concentration. Our mind is closely linked to the quality of our prana, and our breath influences our pranic body. When we concentrate on yoga exercises for breathing to balance the subtle (or energy) body, there is a unifying effect on our overall state of being.

Through aligning our minds with our breath, we can experience relaxed alertness in the energy body and mind, a state that has extremely therapeutic effects on the body. The key ingredient is attention. As we watch our breath, we begin to tune in to our capacity for focus and concentration, qualities that arouse meditative awareness. Pranayama is therefore a wonderful practice to sequence before meditation, because it tethers the mind and prana within our body, amplifying our awareness in the present moment.

The breath can be thought of as the catalyst for inner circulation. When we engage in yoga exercises for breathing, we use our diaphragm in an unhurried and conscious way, we assist in enhancing the distribution of prana throughout our bodies. This style of breathing is called Ujjayi (“victorious”) breath and has a number of benefits. As we slow down the rhythm of each breath, it has a soothing effect on our nervous system. This in turn releases the tensions in our body, helping us to feel more relaxed. As we let go, we tune in to the sound of our breathing, helping to diminish the distractions of the mind and leading to more inner quietude. Focusing on yoga exercises for breathing helps increase our ability to concentrate in an effortless manner, preparing the body and mind for deeper integration.

Excerpt from: Insight Yoga by Sarah Powers.

 

To learn more about Sarah Powers, visit her website at www.sarahpowers.com, and check out her DVD’s and online courses here at Pranamaya.

powers

 SARAH POWERS

An internationally acclaimed master teacher, Sarah Powers weaves the insights and practices of yoga and Buddhist meditation in an integrated practice that seeks to enliven the body, heart, and mind. Her yoga style blends a yin sequence of long-held poses to enhance the meridian and organ systems, with a yang or flow practice influenced by Viniyoga, Ashtanga, and alignment-based vinyasa teachings. – Read more HERE.

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Do Yoga and Alcohol Mix?

Posted on October 2nd, 2011 by Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

tamasic foodI gave up drinking within about a year of starting to do yoga. It wasn’t a moral issue. But with regular asana practice, I simply began to see more clearly what the alcohol was doing to my body. And it wasn’t pretty. Read More »»

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Q&A: Leslie Howard On the Pelvic Floor and Yoga

Posted on October 2nd, 2011 by Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Leslie Howard is a Bay Area-based yoga teacher who runs workshops nationally that teach women about the muscles and potential dysfunctions of the pelvic floor. She talked to The Sacred Cow this month about misconceptions and realities of the pelvic floor and whether or not modern yogis should be practicing mula bandha at all. Read More »»

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Do You Have (or have something against) Yoga Fashion?

Posted on September 14th, 2011 by Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

I spent this past weekend again at the incredible Bhakti Fest in Joshua Tree: Four days of chanting, yoga-ing, and dancing in the desert. It was an amazing, loving, exuberant, and healthy atmosphere. But it was also, like many large yoga events these days, a bit of a fashion show. Read More »»

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Does Your Yoga Tradition Matter?

Posted on September 1st, 2011 by Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

yoga stylesIn modern culture, choosing a style of yoga is akin to strolling through the ice cream section at the local co-op natural foods grocer. The choices are many and everything looks good. But why are there so many styles of asana these days? And does it truly matter which one you do? Read More »»

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Are Yogis Self-Absorbed?

Posted on June 17th, 2011 by Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

self absorbOver the years, as I have become more deeply steeped in my practice, my circle of friends has grown to include amazing, wonderful human beings who are engaged in a process of self-knowledge and self-care. And I, too, have been on this journey. Whether I am on or off the mat, I am often considering every subtle aspect of my life and existence. Read More »»

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Solo or Group Practice: Which is Better?

Posted on June 4th, 2011 by Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

yoga GroupA well-respected senior teacher that I’ve studied with says that Hatha yoga shouldn’t be practiced in a group setting. He teaches elements of the practice to groups of students, but believes the real practice should happen at home, when students practice on their own. (He’s actually called practicing with friends a “yoga gang bang”—some of you reading this will know who he is!)

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Q&A: Nischala Joy Devi Offers a Woman’s Perspective on the Yoga Sutras

Posted on May 17th, 2011 by Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

yoga teacher femaleNischala Joy Devi is a master yoga teacher and healer. She has developed many yoga programs that serve those with life-challenging illnesses, and her teachings emphasize the practice of compassion. She authored two books: The Healing Path of Yoga (on yoga therapy) and The Secret Power of Yoga (a female-centered interpretation of the Yoga Sutras, also made into a CD). She talked to The Sacred Cow about the importance of including a heart-centered—and female—perspective in one’s yoga studies.  Read More »»

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What Is the Right Time to Practice?

Posted on April 14th, 2011 by Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

yoga time

It’s often said that the best time for practice is just before dawn. This is because the mind and the body are fresh, and because the planet (and the home) is still calm and quiet. Some believe that the electromagnetic waves of the sun create obstacles to practice by raising the energetic currents in the environment, and that this is also a good reason to practice before the sun comes up. One of my teachers, Jamie Lindsay, used to say that practicing yoga in the morning is more like preventative medicine, whereas practicing in the evening is more curative. (I loved that way of thinking.) The Kundalini, Ashtanga, and Shadow Yoga communities all deem early morning asana as an important element of a complete practice.

But getting up before dawn can be hard to do. The large majority of yoga practitioners that I know do not practice early in the morning on a regular basis either because their schedules or lack of discipline get in the way. Not everyone has a lifestyle in which they can get to bed early enough to rise with the sun. And even if you do, it can be easy to hit the snooze button in your sleepy haze and convince your still-dreamy brain that another half hour of sleep will be much better for you than getting up to practice yoga.

But is early morning practice really better for everyone? I do enjoy it, but also find that I am a lot more open (and even more clear-minded) in the evenings. Others I know have said they prefer evening practice because they are stiff or tired in the morning, or worried about the things they need to do that day. Of course, it’s also been said that sunset is a beneficial  time to practice, but because our work schedules don’t change (for most of us) with the seasons, practicing consistently at sunset is tricky for most people. And evening practice takes a different kind of discipline: You might be tired from a full day’s work or simply tempted to socialize with friends.

Do you have a favorite time to practice? Do you practice the same time every day? What feels different to you about morning, afternoon, and evening practice? Write in and tell us what you think!

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Does Buddhism Belong in Yoga?

Posted on April 1st, 2011 by Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Yoga classI recently wrote an article for a yoga magazine where I inadvertently used a Buddhist term to describe what I thought was a yogic concept.  The editor pointed this out to me (and said we couldn’t use the word or the concept in the article).  At first, I was a bit embarrassed: How could I have gotten my traditions confused? But it also got me thinking about how often Buddhist terms do find their way into yoga classrooms these days, and how much our yoga path has become influenced by Buddhism.  Read More »»

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