Terre Pruitt's Blog

In the realm of health, wellness, fitness, and the like, or whatever inspires me.

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Posts Tagged ‘equal breath’

Ujjayi Breath

Posted by terrepruitt on May 30, 2018

I am looking through my posts because I was going to post about pranayama. As I am looking I don’t see that I posted how to do ujjayi breath. I mentioned it in one of my posts but I didn’t explain how to do it. The focus of that post is the possible benefits of it. I have a few posts on pranayama. Pranayama is the fourth limb of yoga. It is a practice of controlling one’s breath, controlling the prana or life force. MANY people practice some form of breathing technique. Even if it is not really conscious. Sometimes we just slow down and take a breath. Well, yoga has an actual practice of it (pranayama) and they have several ways to practice pranayama. I have posted about the Equal Breath and Cooling Breath, but not about the type of breathing often recommended be used (that I know of) in many yoga classes. As I said I haven’t posted about ujjayi breath.

Are you familiar with ujjayi breathing? That is the breathing that makes a sound. Well, there are different theories on that (isn’t there on everything?). Some say it has to make a sound. Some think that you are not doing it right if you aren’t making a sound. Some say you don’t have to make a sound. Some say you shouldn’t be that loud. So, like so many things it can be done differently — sound, or no sound. I think that one can do it without making a loud sound, but some people really like to put it out there that they are doing their ujjayi breath. So, whatever.

In addition to the opinions about the sound, there are different ways to describe how to do it. Some people call it Ocean breath because they believe it sounds like the ocean when you are doing it. Some people call it Darth Vader breath because they think it sounds like Darth Vader. Some call it Victory Breath, and again, I am thinking that is because of the sound. There are many additional names for it, but it is ujjayi breathing.

One way to do it is to inhale through your nose then exhale through your mouth saying HAAAAAAAA. Do that a few times. Then inhale through your mouth, keep your mouth closed and exhale through your nose, but still “saying” HAAAAA. This is to help you with the sensation of the air passing through at the back of the throat. Ujjayi breath is breathing through the nose with the air passing through/over the back of the nasal passages and throat.

I also think of is somewhat like what Felix Unger, in the Odd Couple with Tony Randall, used to do. Remember his honking? But he used to open his mouth.

In my post I mentioned earlier, Breath: Quiet And Safe, I was explaining how it is believed this type of breathing tones the areas that relax and cause people to snore. So some believe this can help reduce snoring. I don’t know about that, but I do know that it is a nice way to breath during a yoga practice.

Do you practice pranayama?  Do you do ujjayi breathing during yoga?

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Three Part Breath

Posted by terrepruitt on March 12, 2018

There are eight different limbs to yoga. The poses or asana is just one of them. That is probably the one you are familiar with, the poses. Modern Western yoga is primarily about the poses. When you hear yoga, you more than likely think of an exercise where people bend and stretch. Well, as I mentioned there are eight limbs to yoga, meaning there is a lot more to yoga than just the poses. I often compare yoga and Nia because there is a lot more to Nia than just the dance exercise. A lot of what we do in Nia or the way we approach dancing and exercising can be applied to everyday life – and that is just like yoga. One of the limbs or aspects of yoga is Pranayama. Prana = Life Force Yama = Practice / control / restrain. Pranayama is controlling your breath.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFitThere are many types or ways of doing Pranayama. There are also many schools of thought when it comes to it. Some think you shouldn’t do it until you have mastered the asana . . . but then for many of us, that would mean never doing it . . . or doing it very late in life. Some say it must be done in a seated position. Some say not to do it while in Shavasana. Some say each Pranayama has its place.  Some say you can jsut do it whenever.  Some say Pranayama is a silly practice.

For those that think it is silly I would just like to point out that controlling one’s breath is a very common technique for many things. Sometimes we take a deep breath before we are about to say something important or difficult. We might take a deep breath when our thoughts are racing and we want to calm them down. We might take a deep breath when we are excited and need to calm down. We might do a bit of a pant when we are experiencing pain. There are many common breathing techniques that pretty much most of have participated in. So Pranayama should really be too far out there for people to accept. Doesn’t mean everyone has to do it, but I feel it means pretty much everyone could agree that there is merit to it.

The ones that I have previously posted about: Samavrtti (Equal Breath), Ujjayi (Victorious Breath), and Sitali (Cooling Breath), I feel that I can do. The one I am posting about now is not one that I can do. It is very difficult for me. I can get part of it but not all of it. I am talking about Dirgha or 3 Part Breath.

With the Dirgha Pranayama you breathe into your torso in three parts. I was taught that you practice this Pranayama lying down. First you inhale, gently expanding the belly, as you continue to inhale you expand the ribs, allowing them to open up to the sides, then complete the inhale by expanding the upper chest, lifting it. To complete the breath you exhale starting with the upper chest — don’t let the ribs or the belly move — then exhale from the ribs allow the rib cage to shrink, then finish the breath by emptying the belly area allowing it to deflate. Repeat this process with a smooth and relaxed breath. So the breath is not done in three parts, but the breath is brought into three different areas one at a time.

It is an extreme challenge for me to separate each area on the exhale. One technique that can help with the separate or at least give you a visual as to the separate areas is to place something on each area. Yoga sandbags are the perfect tool. Something with a little weight seems to help for me. But a towel or whatever can lay across each area and indicate movement is great.

Pranayama is practiced – just giving a few – to help improve lung function, to steady the mind (when the breath is steady the mind is steady), and to relax the body and mind. So, if you want to achieve any of these, then you might want to try the Dirgha Pranayama.

When you read it, did you try it? How did you do?

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Cool Breath

Posted by terrepruitt on June 19, 2017

When I was young I remember waiting impatiently for my dad to get home one day. The second I saw his truck I was out the door running to it. I distinctly remember bombarding him with questions before he even opened the truck door. We had been assigned to do a little research. You probably did it too in school. You had to go home and check with your family to see if their ears were attached with or without lobes and to see if they could roll their tongue. I think that my mom could do it, but my dad could not. But I could be wrong on that. I don’t know about my brother. I don’t remember if I checked with him or if he wasn’t home or what.  Funny . . . I remember running up to my dad’s truck to ask him, but I don’t really remember the results.  Currently, it is almost summer, but the temperatures think it is summer and we are having unbearable heat. I was thinking about cooling asana and I came across a pranayama that I had not remembered studying, is supposed to help cool the body.

First of all, (back to the tongue rolling) when I was in school they taught us the ability to roll your tongue was genetic. But I am finding out now, that there have been many studies that point to it not being genetic. One family study in 1951 sampled a large group which showed “non-rollers” had “roller” children . . . they concluded that couldn’t happen if rolling was simply “a simple one-gene, two-allele genetic character, with rolling completely dominant to non-rolling”.

Now back to the pranayama. There are many pranayama and even more variations. Pranayama is a limb of yoga and is – at its very basic – breath control. They are ways of breathing in different ways. Each one said to help (and sometimes hinder) specific issues. There is one technique called Sitali, which is a cooling breathing technique.  As I mentioned, it has been hot here so I feel many of us could use techniques that will allow us to cool our body down.

This pranayama is easy and can be practiced by anyone that can safely practice asana.

A lot of instructions on pranayama instruct the practitioner to be in a specific position. I would recommend assuming the instructed position when possible, but also, since pranayama is used to target specific issues, I also believe it can be done when needed. Say the ideal way to practice a technique is cross-legged with your eyes closed in a calm place with no distractions . . . but you are needing/wanting to find some calm while stuck driving in traffic. I would encourage you to try the technique, but obviously you are not going to be able to sit cross-legged, traffic is not a calm situation, and you should not be closing your eyes, but Samavrtti or Equal Breath pranayama during traffic, might help make it more bearable.

So for this one, if you can . . . yes, sit in a calm distraction free area on the floor in sukhasana using whatever props you need to be comfortable. But if not, try it where you are able.

________________

Sitali

Relax your shoulders and lengthen your spine. Let your face relax.

Then curl your tongue and let it stick out from your pursed lips.  Just let it stick out, no need to jut it out far. Then inhale through your mouth letting air come through your rolled tongue. Take a full inhale.  Then bring your tongue into your mouth, close your mouth, and exhale slowly through your nose.

Repeating it at least 5 times. More if you want and you are able.

If rolling your tongue is not something you can do, just put your tongue up against your lower front teeth, purse your lips as if you are going to whistle, then inhale, allowing the air to pass over your tongue. Take a full inhale.  Close your mouth.  When you are ready to exhale do so slowly through your nose.

________________

As I often say, there are many variations on how to do asana, same with pranayama.  There are variations to this, but this is the basics.  Inhale through your mouth over the tongue, exhale through your nose.

Seems easy enough.  Did you try it?  Did it help cool you down?

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

More To Yoga Than Just Asana

Posted by terrepruitt on January 13, 2016

I have often mentioned how Nia is a cardio dance exercise that you can take to another level and make it a practice, like yoga.  Yoga is an exercise that you can take to another level by practicing some of the other limbs of yoga.  Yoga has eight limbs.  These limbs are things that one can work with throughout a lifetime.  They are not necessarily things that one masters – well, not things that I can master.  There could be days when it feels as if they have been mastered and then days when it feels like you had never even heard of them because the ideas or actions were just not present.  So . . . these things get “practiced”.  The physical, exercise part of yoga is just one of the limbs.  While Nia is not as . . . I’ll say, “preachey” as yoga we do have some things that can be practiced outside of the dance class, off the dance floor.  Things like noticing your movement and being aware of your relationship with others and things.  But yoga’s limbs are more like rules to live by.

The eight limbs of yoga are:

1)  The yamas.  There are five yamas.  They are often compared to restrictions.  Some think of them as restraints or ethical principles.

2)  The niyamas.  There are five niyamas.  They are often compared to rules.  Some think of them as observances or spiritual practices.

3)  The asana.  There are thousands of poses.  This is the physical limb of yoga.  This is the exercise that has become very popular.  Not only are there a lot of poses, there are many different types of yoga.  Some are ancient and some are very new.  Some types have created new poses.  And sometimes I think that the ancient text has been translated so many different ways we end up with different poses.

4)  Pranayama.  There are various types of pranayama.  This is the breath work of yoga.  I have posted about two types of pranayama, Ujjayi Breathing and Equal Breath
Since this was originally posted I have posted about additional types of pranayama:  Dirgha.


5)  Pratyahara.
  This is the withdrawal of the senses.  The idea is that when the mind has control over the senses, can withdrawal them, then it can focus on the other limbs of yoga without distraction.

6)  Dharana.  This is concentration.  The idea of concentration of the mind on one thing leads to meditation.

7)  Dhyana.  This is meditation.  The idea is to be able to concentrate on one point.  Being able to breathe to a state of withdrawal of the senses.  Having complete control.  Then concentration is pure.  Meditation is supremely focused and then . . .

8)  Samadhi.  This is transcendence.  When one is in control over mind and body.

Each of these could definitely use a blog post of their own.  Not sure I will get to them all.  But, I will at least do a post on the yamas, a post on the niyamas, and a post on pranayama.  Probably multiple posts on each of them.  So, if you are interested stay tuned.

I had heard about the first two, and knew that poses and breathing were apart of yoga.  But was not and am not so familiar with the last four.  Did you know there were eight limbs to yoga?  Which ones are you familiar with?    

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Equal Breath

Posted by terrepruitt on September 3, 2015

You may be familiar with yoga.  You know those stretching exercises people do?  That is what many people think of as yoga, stretching and bending and making your body a pretzel.  Well, the poses, the postures, the asana are a part of yoga.  That is really only one part of eight.  There are eight limbs of yoga.  Another part is pranayama.  I mentioned one in my post Breath: Quiet and Safe.  In that post I also mentioned why I often compare Nia and yoga.  First of all I believe that Nia has incorporated many things from yoga into Nia, so that is one reason why I talk about yoga and Nia.  But I also talk about them being similar because Nia is a dance exercise and for many people that is all it is.  And since cardio exercise is beneficial I think that is fine, if that is as far as people want to go with it.  The same with yoga.  Yoga is an exercise.  You can just do the moves and, I believe through movement, gain many benefits.  However, if you want to get more out of it, there are these other things that you can practice, and one of them is pranayama.

Now, Iyengar says “attempt pranayama only when the yoga asanas have been mastered.”  Because that is what Patanjali says in the Yoga Sturas.  But for many of us that means we would never do pranayama or if we did it would be years and years AFTER we have been practicing.  Now, I am just starting to learn more about pranayama, so if you want to heed the master, by all means, please do.  I think, however, that pranayama is beneficial so I don’t want to wait until I have mastered the asana, because, quite honestly I might not “MASTER” them at all.

Now some people might hear pranayama and think that is just to woo-woo.  What is that anyway, just a bunch of crossed-legged people breathing?  Well, there are specific pranayamas.  And there are specific ways to do them.  And even specific times.  But let me ask you this:  have you EVER, EVER, just stopped and held your breath?  Perhaps someone said something that made you angry so you stopped and held your breath.  Perhaps someone in a store cut in front of you in line so you stopped and held your breath.  Or have you ever stopped to took a breath?  Perhaps you were just going, going, going and you realized you wanted to slow down so you took a breath?  Perhaps you looked outside your window and realized what a beautiful day it was so you took a breath.  Now, as I said, pranayama is specific so I am not saying THAT or THOSE breaths were pranayama, but I am saying that if you have ever stopped breathing or stopped and taken a breath for any reason you might be able to see how pranayama could be beneficial.

I mentioned the other post I wrote about pranayama, Ujjayi specifically.  Well there is another one that I think of as “easy”.  It is Samavrtti.  Sama means equal so it is a practice of equality in breathing.  But in this type of breath there are FOUR parts.  Typically I think of breathing as TWO parts, inhale and exhale.  Well, with this the other two are retention.  As in holding.  Pausing after the inhale then pausing after the exhale.  The reason I say this is “easy” with quotation marks is sometimes the retention is stress inducing.  Some people don’t like to hold their breath on the inhale and some people don’t like to hold their breath on the exhale.  So while the idea is that anyone can do this at anytime, you want to make sure that this is not something that will cause you anxiety.

With this, the idea is to inhale then hold, exhale then hold.  Keeping the SAMA in mind, the goal is to inhale, hold, exhale, hold equally.  So there are many ways to do it if you are counting as a way of keep track you can inhale 1,2, hold 1,2, exhale 1,2, hold 1,2.  If the holding causes anxiety, it is ok to build up to it.  Perhaps just holding after the inhale.  Or maybe just hold on whichever retention causes less anxiety.  Then perhaps graduating to inhale 1,2, hold 1, exhale 1,2, hold 1.  There are many combinations to do while you work up to EQUAL parts.

Remember that the breaths should be relaxed and even.  So the idea is not to inhale then hold so long that your exhale is a rush of air.  It should all be even and relaxed.

Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar states in his Light On Pranayama to practice in ratios retain only on the inhalation.  Once you achieve his stated ratios THEN move onto the retention after the exhalation.  But he begins that instruction stating you will not be able to retain on the exhale.  So it could be he means to follow the ratios is you really are unable to hold your exhale.  While in general I love to follow the instructions and guidelines of the masters and experts, sometimes if I restrict myself to their instructions I end up not doing it at all.  So . . . my recommendation is to try it and do what is comfortable for you.  Being mindful and cautious.

Some say the samavritt calms the mind and can help to create steadiness and focus even in the most challenging asanas.  And others say it calms the body and focuses the mind.

Do you practice any pranayama?  Do you ever take a deep breath?

 

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »