ujjayi: the yoga singularity
Ujjayi breathing is the only thing that truly matters in your yoga practice. Bold statement? Yes, and no.
The breath is the icing and the cake. It doesn’t matter if you are the most inflexible, uncoordinated, antithesis of grace in the entire human race. I often hear people say they are interested in yoga but they feel too stiff to try a class… the only thing that is too stiff in these scenarios is the mind, as Pattabhi Jois would say.
Ujjayi, “victorious breath”, technique takes practice and mindfulness to master. It is the singular component of our practice that is absolutely necessary. And everybody can breath, regardless of their physiological makeup. So Ujjayi, I dub thee, THE YOGA SINGULARITY.
Beginning our practice means shifting our breathing entirely to the nose. We inhale through the nose, creating a soft sound in the back of the throat, and we exhale through the nose while at the same time allowing the back of the throat to constrict slightly. This narrows the air passageway, slowing our breath down and creating an audible (to ourselves and neighbors if done correctly) whooshing sound that has been likened to an ocean sound, or wind in the trees, or breath fogging up a mirror.
When we breath with conscious awareness, we are uniting mind and body. The word yoga actually translates to mean union, and mind-movement-breath unification is the golden secret of yoga’s power. Using breathing techniques, or pranayama, facilitates a switch from the Sympathetic Nervous System - the fight or flight mode that is extremely over-activated in our current society due to constant stress and lack of effective release and recalibrate mechanisms - to our Parasympathetic Nervous System - the relaxed nervous state that controls the body during rest, digestion etc. Switching to longer, slower, smoother breathing also switches the way our central nervous system and heart-rate behaves over time. The entire body begins to handle stress better, anxiety levels decrease, the immune system begins working properly again and calm clarity moves from distant relation to best friend.
Bandhas can be thought of as internal energy gates. They are essential, interesting, complex and ultimately fun elements of the practice. Awareness and proper utilization of the bandhas not only advances the student’s practice by unlocking all sorts of magical possibilities in movement, but also keeps the yogi safe from injury. Sometimes bandhas are not really talked about in beginning level yoga classes… I like to help students build awareness of them, gradually albeit, but early on in the practice.
Mulabandha -“Root Lock”: Located at the base of the spinal column, the exact location differs between men and women, however everyone can find it by locating the muscles used to control urination. Activation of the root bandha is a subtle process that takes time and practice. Mulha is complex! I like to visualize it as an ever-increasing awareness of my root chakra and a subtle drawing upward of energy from my root. This awareness eventually transfers over from the mat into every day life. Mulhabandha has long been championed by the sages as a master way to prevent energy leakages and bring energy up the spine into the higher chakras. Come into a yogic squat and practice contracting and releasing mulhabandha. Then try utilizing it in Bakasana/Crow and see how effortless this asana becomes!
Uddiyana Bandha - “flying upward”: To fully activate, exhale fully and then draw the lower belly in and up while lifting the diaphragm. During asana practice, the bandha usage becomes more subtle. I like to simply visualize floating the low belly in and slightly up. This is immensely helpful in forward folds, standing and arm balances, inversions, and even poses like triangle and half-moon. Try drawing the low-belly in and up during triangle as you rotate the rib-cage on its axis open toward the sky and feel the improvement in your alignment and subtle new openings this bandha encourages!
Jalandhara Bandha - the chin lock, which is used less frequently than the first two in most traditional vinyasa practices. It is particularly important in shoulderstand and should be used subtly in sitting meditative postures like Padmasana/Lotus. Thinking about dropping the chin in Tadasana/Mountain. This bandha closes the energy circuit and prevents energy from flying out the top of your head. Try practicing 108 counts of breath of fire in Virasana/Hero pose while utilizing this bandha and a mudra of your choice!
~The Bliss Frequencies~
Meditation and yoga practice have long been known to induce the alpha brainwave state. Creativity and inspiration flow effortlessly as tension and stress are transmuted into calm tranquility. We realize the interconnectedness of all life and consciousness and feel empathy more readily as our brainwaves expand into longer frequencies.
Research shows that many musicians are very adept at transitioning seamlessly into alpha state, which correlates to the exciting role sound can play in helping us experience the bliss frequencies. For example, hearing C and G tuning forks played together for 30-60 seconds effects the brain in the same way as 45 minutes of meditation - both induce alpha! Utilizing sound is an amazing option particularly for those who are new to meditation or are fighting illness/pain and want to trigger pain-fighting endorphins and a recovery response deep within the cells.
Wavelengths are here to help in the most advanced modalities of healing and consciousness evolution!
Timeline Shifts: A shift in what you believe and think is possible to a more expansive and inclusive view. Potentials and possibilities in your life are amplified. The direction of your life shifts at each timeline shift.
image: Jacob Jugashvili » “Unknown Waters II”
Qi/Chi, Prana, Ruach, Ki, Baraka, Wakan, Orenda, Megbe - beautiful words for the subtle energy matrix from the Chinese, Indian/Tibetan, Jewish, Japanese, Sufi, Lakota, Iroquis, and Ituri Pygmy People