Terre Pruitt's Blog

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

  • I teach Nia, yoga and stretch! SIX group classes a week!

    Nia: Tues and Thurs at 9 am, Fri at 10:15 am

    Yoga: Tues at 10:30 am and Thurs at 6:00 pm

    Stretch: Thurs at 10:15 am

    Please see my website for details! I sub for the City of San Jose and the YMCA so check my website for dates and times!

    I am also available for private Nia / yoga / Personal Training!

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • My Bloggey Past

  • ******

    Chose a month above to visit archives, or click below to visit a page.

Posts Tagged ‘ujjayi’

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 »

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 »

Breath: Quiet And Safe

Posted by terrepruitt on March 14, 2015

There are a lot of different aspects of yoga.  Just like there are a lot of different aspects of Nia.  As I have said before you can do Nia without getting involved in all of the principles and aspects of it.  You can treat it like a workout and not take it any further.  The same goes for yoga.  That is why I always compare the two.  You can go to a yoga class and go through the poses without giving any of the other aspects a second thought.  I believe that both Nia and yoga can be more beneficial, more satisfying when you do think about the other parts of it . . . but we all have different goals and different ideas.  One of the “aspects” of yoga or limbs of yoga – is pranayama.  There are different pranayamas.  A common one – Ujjayi is typically done while doing the yoga poses, and it might be helpful in reducing or stopping snoring.

So, pranayama is the practice of controlling one’s prana (life force) through breath or the practice of controlling one’s breath.  There are many forms of this type of practice and many ways in which to perform them.  But as I said, a common one is ujjayi breathing.  It is what many recommend be done while doing the asanas.  Some call it the Victory Breath, the Warming Breath, the Ocean Breath, Snake-breathing, throat breathing, or even the Darth Vadar Breath.  It is done through the nose, both the inhale and the exhale.  Some of the names stem from the fact that when you do it you may sound like the ocean, a snake, or Darth Vadar.

This breath “exercise” is done by closing the glottis partially on the exhale.  This post is not to get into the mechanic of how to do ujjayi breathing.  But a quick way to give you an IDEA of how to do it, is to think Felix Unger.  Remember him?  Remember that annoying noise he used to make?  Well, that is a lot more sound than you want, but that gives you an idea of what needs to be going on in your throat / nasal area.

I am excited by the prospect that this type of breathing could help stop snoring or even more importantly sleep apnea.  The idea behind this thought process is that the muscles need toning.  People snore because stuff in there gets to relaxed and it makes noise as the person breathes.  So, it kind of makes sense that if it can be toned or trained then it could help stop the snoring or the life threatening sleep apnea.

Yoga Therapy.com says:  “In fact, this snoring is the sound that occurs when air passes through stenosed nasopharynx, caused by vibration in the air flow of compliant structures of the pharynx (tongue, soft palate, etc.). The main reason that causes vibration of the said formations is impairment of muscle tone of the pharynx and soft palate, structural anomalies and functional abnormalities of the pharynx and soft palate.”  Like I said the stuff in there makes noise.

Again, as I said, this makes sense to me . . . as in, why not try it, it can’t really hurt, but if it did help . . . Oh man, for some it would be a life saver.  I think it is worth a try.  Just another reason to practice pranayama.

Do you think a breathing practice is worth trying if it would stop snoring and/or sleep apnea?  Do you know anyone that snores?  Do you know anyone with sleep apnea?

 

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »