Pranayama Yoga: Even Breathing (Ujjayi)
As you take this breath, can you feel your body respond to it?
What if you rise up taller and make more space for your breath – what does it feel like now?
Breath is the movement of life. It is a gift offered in each moment, one that we are often not aware of receiving. Breathing is the act that connects each and every living being to one another. It is a beautiful flowing guide.
So much of yoga is based on the breath. When you do an asana practice, you lead with your breath. Pranayama, an entire branch of yoga, is the practice of dancing with the breath using techniques that can cleanse and heal the body, focus the mind, and connect with the spirit.
It is very important that you never force or strain when working with your breath, and always let go of a technique if it creates any anxiety or strain, returning to your natural breath. Working with the breath is all about being aware and co-participating in the act of breathing; of being in the flow of nature.
Turning your awareness to your breath is a secret of finding peace on every level, allowing you to align with your true nature and tap in to the vast, loving energy of the universe.
Mini-practice: Bathing in the Breath
(Pranayama practice with even breathing and Ujjayi)
Take a comfortable seat.
Root into your pelvis and rise up through your spine,
Open your physical posture to create spaciousness within.
Close your eyes and feel the movement of your natural breath.
Start to make your breathing even:
Make your inhale the same length as your exhale.
Take in an even amount of air through the whole breath,
Allow in the same volume during the beginning and end of the inhale,
Release the exhale smoothly.
If you know the technique of Ujjayi, you may use it:
This is a slight toning of the back of the throat
Producing a gentle whisper of sound
So the breath sounds like the ocean when you hear it in a seashell
If this technique is foreign or escapes you, don`t worry, just breathe evenly
Close your eyes and sit, bathing in this even breath for a few minutes, or longer if you wish.
When you are ready, release the technique.
Give yourself a minute or two to feel your natural breath,
And savour the deep feeling of peace that you created
In the equanimity of your breath.
If you’d like to learn more about Pranayama,
Yoga for Dragon Riders, has a whole section on this practice,
with step-by-step exercises you can do at home.
“Take a deep breath in, feel the sun on your soul. Start fresh today, make peace your goal.” ~Melanie Moushigian Koulouris