the breath

Pranayama

 

Prana:

     Means “vital energy’ or life force

        It is the force, which exists in all things.

     It is more subtle than air or oxygen.

     It also refers quite literally to the breath.

 

Ayama: 

Is defined as “extension’, ‘expansion’ or ‘pause’

In the beginning

       More emphasis is given to inhalation and exhalation

      Strengthen the lungs and balance the nervous and pranic systems

      Thurs preparing for kumbhaka, the retention.


Pranayama uses the breath to influence the flow of prana in the nadis, purifying, regulating and activating them, thereby inducing physical and metal stability.

 

         Puraka = controlled inhale. 

      Recaka = controlled exhale.

      Kumbhaka =controlled retention.

 

Pranyama really means controlling the motion of the lungs, and this is associated with the breath. So pranayama is not breathing, but controlling that muscular power that controls the lungs.

 

                 The Ujjayi Breath

The inhalation and exhalation is always through the nose.

Why?

Provides greater breath control.
Provides the first line of defence for the immune system, by filtering out the air born foreign          particles, which get trapped, by the nasal mucosa and nasal hairs.
Conditions the incoming air, by bringing it to the appropriate body temperature.
Moistens the air
Calming effect on the body and mind.

The sibilant sound Ujjayi is created by a slight contraction of the Glottis in the pit of the throat. It should be soft and smooth not harsh or course.

Below the Navel

In this yoga practice the breath is the link to controlling the inner pranic currents and as we learn to control the rise and fall of the internal pressure, especially in the abdomen. The essential control of the breath begins at the base of the pelvic floor, where we activate Mula Bandha, by contracting the pelvic diaphragm ( Levator Ani ), in particular the Pubococcygeus (PC) Muscle. This will be felt from the base all the way up to the pubic bone. This internally seals the opening of the anus and reproductive organs, preventing the loss of internal pressure. The pressure increases during the inhalation, so prior to initiating the in breath we actively contract the PC Muscle. This is however not a forceful or overworked contraction, but rather just enough to hold the incoming pressure and should never cause muscular fatigue. The internal pressure naturally decreases during the exhalation and therefore the hold can be gently released in proportion to the decrease, however at the tail end of the exhalation the pelvic floor will naturally contract again to give a full exhalation and so then it is juts held for the next inhale.

Above the Navel

It is imperative that the upper abdominals remain completely relaxed throughout the breath, especially during the inhalation. Many people hold excessive tension in the area between the breastbone and the navel, due to faulty breathing, psychological issues and poor postural habits exasperated by sedentary lifestyles and poorly designed furniture.

The Diaphragm and Rib Cage.

The respiratory diaphragm is the primary muscle of the breathing, as it actively contract during inhalation it flattens around it’s own central tendon, increasing the vertical diameter of the rib cage and volume of the lung cavity. This results in a negative pressure that draws outside air into the lungs. The intercostals muscles simultaneously contract to move the ribs up and out, increasing the horizontal diameter of the chest cavity.

In Summary

· Breathe in and out of the nose for greater control.
· Maintain control at the glottis, producing a soft sibilant sound.
· Initiate the breath from the activation of Mula and Uddiyana Bandhas, concentrated around the pubic bone.
· Control the increase in internal pressure with just enough activity in the pelvic floor muscles.
· Maintain a relaxed softness above the navel to the breastbone.
· Breathe full, diaphragmatically and allow the lowest ribs to expand and broaden maximally.

Uddhiyana Bandha
· Negative Force. Helps gets the system moving.
Agni Sara
· Positive Force. Pressure on your diaphragm stirring the fire.
Simha Mudra.
· Throw the breath out; get rid of dull energies helps relax.
Jivha Bandha
· Strengthens of the jaw, tongue fermium
Brahma Mudra
* Nerves in the brain are stimulated.