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“Water is a great teacher.

It shows us how to move through the world with grace, ease, determination and humility.”

Resources

Pranayama

Prana = air, breath, energy, life force, aliveness
Yama = to restrain, to hold back, to accumulate
Ayama = to lengthen, to expand, to enhance

Pranayama Definition

"Pranayama is a breathing exercise restraining or expanding our breath so that there is an increase in prana and we feel more alive"

The simple breathing techniques, which are detailed below, can be used in the comfort of your own home to reduce stress and anxiety, soothe the nervous system and calm the mind.

You can learn these and more advanced pranayama techniques in a private session.

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Dirgha Pranayama

(3-Part Yogic Breath, Complete Yogic Breath)

- Instructions-

  1. Sit with straight spine and relax your abdomen.

  2. Place your palms on your belly and breathe into the lower lungs feeling your belly expand into your palms. Repeat several times.

  3. Shift your palms to the sides of your rib cage, and breathe into your rib cage, expanding it in every direction, front, sides and back. Repeat several times.

  4. Place your fingertips on the upper chest just below your collar bones. Breathe into the upper part of your chest and feel your hands lifting. Repeat several

  5. times.

  6. Combine all three in-breaths to make an inhalation.

  7. Exhale completely, gently contracting the abdomen to squeeze out residual air.

  8. Repeat this cycle several times, placing your hands on the belly, ribs or upper chest. Focus on filling and emptying your lungs completely.

  9. Rest your hands in your lap and continue this breathing pattern for several minutes.

 

This technique is safe for anyone and can be practiced at any time of the day or night. It is very soothing to the mind. Practicing at bedtime makes it easier to fall asleep. It releases tension in chest and abdomen and provides a complete exchange of air in the lungs. Slow, deep breathing requires attention and focuses the mind inward. This increased inward focus makes all yoga practices more effective because we can observe their subtle effects on the body and mind.

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Ujjayi Pranayama

(Ocean Breath, Victorious breath)

- Instructions-

  1. Sit straight and relax your abdomen.

  2. Imagine sitting in front of a mirror and imagine you want to fog the mirror with your breath through the mouth as you exhale.

  3. Close your mouth and fog the imaginary mirror through the nose; keep the sound in the throat as best as you can.

  4. Gently contract the back of your throat to make a steady, soft, low pitched hissing sound like the sound you hear in a sea shell. Do this on both the inhalation and exhalation and keep your mouth closed.

  5. Explore how loudly you can make the sound, but do not strain. Focus all of your attention on the sound and let it become more steady and similar intensity on both, the inhales and the exhales.

  6. Release and sit quietly to feel the effects. 

Ujjayi is translated as to be victorious over or to conquer and refers to its power to still the mind. The mind is pulled from thoughts and external distractions creating introversion. At first, your mind may linger on thoughts about the past or plan for the future. After several rounds of breaths the sound begins to interfere with thinking and the thoughts will gradually subside. Ujjayi Pranayama is safe for anyone and can be practiced at any time of day or night. It is considered a warm up pranayama to prepare the body and mind for more advanced pranayamas like Kapalabhati (Skull Polishing Breath) or to generate a meditative state of focused awareness when combined with Nadi Shodana (Alternate Nostril Breath).

 

During the practice, stay present in your body and emotions, and keep the breath flowing and mind focused. If you become tired, dizzy or nauseous, take slow deep breaths. Allow time for rest and integration after your pranayama practice. If you experience any negative physical or mental effects, discontinue practice and seek advice from a qualified yoga therapist or physician. 

Some of my Favorite Resources (Books, Audio, Video)

  • Kripalu Yoga: A Guide to Practice On and Off the Mat by Richard Faulds

  • Yoga and the Quest for the True Self by Stephen Cope

  • Sayings of Swami Kripalu: Inspiring Quotes from a Contemporary Yoga Master, edited by Richard Faulds

  • Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture practice by Mark Singleton

  • Bhagavad Gita / Translated by Winthrop Sargeant

  • Journey of the Heart by John Welwood

  • Alchemy of Abundance by Rick Jarow

  • Siddhartha: An Indian Tale by Hermann Hesse

  • Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

  • The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling by Stephen Cope

  • Energy Awareness Meditations by Jonathan Foust jonathanfoust.com

  • A Touch of Grace: Bamboo Flute Meditations by Jonathan Foust jonathanfoust.com

  • Ram Dass Fierce Grace (video)

Free Video

Mindful Movement for a Supple and Strong Spine

In this short 4-minute video you’ll be guided through a simple, mindful movement of rounding and arching the spine in Table Pose. The goal is to keep the spine—and all the muscles and soft tissues around it—supple and strong, increase mobility and flexibility, and prevent back pain.

Rudraksha prayer beads for meditation on a brown wooden background, top view. Japa mala, c

kripalu.org

Center for Yoga and Health, Berkshires, Western Massachusetts

pranakriya.org

Pranakriya School of Yoga and Healing Arts

 

naturalmedicine.net

Writings of Swami Kripalu (Asana & Mudra, The Science of Meditation, and other online downloads)

 

cambridgemindbody.com

Holistic mental health therapy