Finding Ease of Breath and Stillness Within -- A basic Pranayama exercise Week 1, Day 5: Yoga Practices for Joy, Creativity and Wholeness

INNER WORLD OF YOGA

Yoga Journey with Wendy

Yoga Practices for Joy, Creativity and Wholeness

 

 

Finding Ease of Breath and Stillness Within: Week 1, Day 5

Today's practice is a breath regulation exercise where inhalation to exhalation is a 1:2 ratio. This practice builds on Breath Awareness (Week 1, Day 1).

Pranayama, fourth limb of Yoga is a very powerful tool for health and well-being in Body, Mind and Spirit. Pranayama builds on and is a companion practice to Asana. In asana practice we are always looking for the sukha (ease/surrender) and stihra (steadiness/strength) of the posture. This focus takes us deeper into the nuances and awareness of our mind/body allowing us to let go of blocks and move forward with greater strength, steadiness, balance and ease on all levels.

  • Physical Benefits can include: better oxygen intake and more complete release of stale breath and impurities; rejuvenation: higher oxygen content and delivery in the blood; better organ function particularly for lung, kidney, liver and spleen; positive impact on digestion; increase in vitality and vigor while bringing more evenness and calm to the nervous system; creates a store of / or restores energy in the body                                                                       
  • Emotional/Psychological/Mental Benefits can include: more evenness and calm to the nervous system; mental clarity; less agitation and anger; sharpens intellect and memory; brings more steadiness to the flow of emotions; can help relieve the shakiness, fear, indecisiveness, despair and "frozen" feeling of depression and anxiety                                               
  • Spiritual Benefits can include: cleanses and opens the senses and the mind; illuminates and purifies the intellect and the ego bringing knowledge from within us to consciousness; creates feeling of internal space unlocking the mind from the body's grasp; with daily practice one can become free of fear and fear of death, be liberated from the mind leaving past judgments behind and living in the present; an agent of change that can bring one to the window of the self or the door to the soul and thus, enlightenment or Samadhi (eighth limb of Yoga) 

Numerous studies over the past 40 years or more with meditators practicing various forms of meditation including mantra, contemplation, mindfulness as well as regular asana and pranayama exercises have demonstrated the many benefits of Yoga practices for our physical bodies, and emotional and psychological well-being. The more Yoga is studied, the longer the list of benefits grows.

The historical richness of Yogic methodology that includes universal truths, teachings, and practices that provide for understanding and knowledge for every human condition and issue, and every stage of human life from conception to physical death, is as applicable and relevant to life today as it was 5000 years ago.

Yoga Asana, Yoga Pranayama, Yoga Therapy for physical issues, Yoga Psycho/Social Therapy based in the Universal Truths of Yama, and Personal Disciplines of Niyama, provide a plan or road map for living life by higher universal principles -- a state of knowing and being that is way beyond concepts and rooted in spirituality for our personal spiritual development.

Whether we know it or not we all strive for this wholeness, completeness, purpose, and fulfillment in life, although we may recognize it only as a desire for happiness, security, success or love. 

 

Pranayama, like Asana, is a fundamental tool for generating positive change in our life. Whatever we desire in life can be ours, although those desires may be redefined as we achieve more balance and growth. This is where "right action" and "karma" come into play, and that discussion will be addressed in weeks 3 and 4 of this challenge.

While Pranayama is a powerful agent of positive change, please pay attention to the cues given regarding "ease" and "no forcing of breath" in any and all pranayama practices. Like basically everything in life, there is duality or an upside and downside.

A downside of Asana practice is that it can reinforce poor posture or poor movement habits, irritate unhealed or unresolved injuries, or even result in injury, instead of bringing more balance, steadiness, ease, strength and flexibility if we aren't practicing with focus on experiencing the body and developing awareness of our internal alignment.  

The downside of Pranayama for instance, is that improper forcing of breath practices may provoke pain in ears, eyes, or heart,  "harden" our breathing apparatus provoking instead of healing breathing conditions, or exacerbate hyper-tension, while proper practice is said in yogic texts to actually provide a cure for these conditions, as evidence has supported in various studies and anecdotal evidence.

 

While everything from sleeping to sky diving has a risk factor in life, and we can never bring risk to zero, the benefits of Yoga Practices for the vast majority far outweigh any risk.

 

In ALL Yoga Practices we reduce risk and receive the most benefit when:

  1. We focus, and are aware of our breath and body alignment to the best of our ability
  2. We make ease and steadiness a priority and NEVER push for sake of appearance, to "look" like we think we "should" (yoga swear word), or to force to the next level
  3. Have awareness of and respect for "where we are at this moment' i.e. we can only begin every practice from where we are at that moment, not where we wish we could be 
  4. In Asana and Pranayama, if you cannot find ease of breath, STOP what you are doing immediately and back off the practice
  5. Realize and hold uppermost in your mind that your practice is YOUR PERSONAL PRACTICE, and your awareness and your communication is within yourself during your practice

 

I always remind my students in asana and pranayama practice that if you are not building focus, awareness, ease and internal alignment, you may be building injury.

 

This is the link for today's practice, Breath Regulation.

 

Honor Where You Are in This Moment

Forget about whether or not you are "doing" it right, and instead go directly to awareness of your experience.
Worry and judgment hide reality and for this practice, we need to see and honor our reality, with the knowledge that where we begin today is not where we will be tomorrow. Every time we practice we grow.

This breath regulation practice can be done for 3-5 minutes or longer, after establishing easy and full breath through a breath awareness practice of 3-5 minutes or longer.

 

Please join me tomorrow for another beneficial practice for Yoga and Your Body. Please leave any questions, comments or concerns on my blog page where I can access and address them.  I wish you deep and easy breaths.

Namaste

Wendy

 

 

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