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“Mind and breath are linked together. Like milk and water, once mixed, they cannot be separated. When the mind moves, the breath is unsteady, when the breath is unsteady the mind is agitated. When the breath is under control, the mind can be concentrated.”
- Hatha Yoga Pradipika

 

Integral Practice - Breathing, Bandha and Mudra in Asana, Pranayama and Meditation
Saturdays 8 - 9.30am - June 22/29 July 6/13/20Cost $35 drop in or $165 for all 5 classes - pay online

Developing a Pranayama Practice
Wednesdays 10.15 - 11am June 19/26 & July 10/17/24
Cost $20 drop in or $85 for 5 classes - pay online

Controlling the breath is the most fundamental tool of yoga - it is the central theme in asana, pranayama and meditation practice. Breathing and the mind are essentially linked. Most of the time breathing is unconscious, but it is the one autonomic function that can be deliberately adjusted or regulated and controlled.

Modifying the Breath

Through deliberately changing the way one breathes, one modifies the way one feels and experiences on the physical, emotional and mental level. Moderating the breath has a fundamental impact on the biological functions of the body, sensations, actions of the nervous system, heart rate, blood pressure... in short, changing the breath has a comprehensive impact on the whole organism.

Adjusting the way you breathe affects emotion. It is an effective way to instill tranquility, peace and calmness in the face of anxiety, stress and confusion. It can alleviate depressive feelings and energize lethargy or sleepiness. It can release tension, relax digestion and aid concentration.

Breathing is the most essential human act. Life starts with the first inhale and ends with the last exhale. Yogis measure a person's lifespan by the number of breaths - the faster you breathe, the shorter life will be and the slower you breathe, the longer life will last. If you restrain (hold) the breath, life-span can be extended still further.

Asana and Pranayama

In asana practice, the aim is to make the breath slow and even, smooth and consistent. Modulating the breath facilitates the vinyasa - the movement into and out of each asana. Through softening, lengthening and smoothing the breath, the mind relaxes and the muscles release tension allowing for a deepening of posture.

Pranayama means to slow down, control and hold the breath. There are many pranayamas, but two basic types - holding the breath after inhaling or holding the breath after exhaling. Pranayama is the gateway to meditation and the introversion, stilling and controlling of the mind.

Hatha Yoga

The breath moves predominantly through either the left or the right nostril at any one time. Breathing through the right nostril is associated with extraverted activity and the sympathetic nervous system, while the breath moving through the left nostril is associated with internal processes of the body (such as digestion) and the functions of the parasympathetic nervous system. The purpose of yoga practice is to make the breath move evenly through both nostrils - this is known as shushumna breathing and is associated with calmness and the ability to introvert the mind and concentrate.

This is the meaning of hatha yoga - ha refers to the breath moving through the right nostril - it is associated with heat, the sun, male, extraverted energy, while tha refers to the breath moving through the left nostril - it is cool, lunar, feminine and introverted. Hatha yoga is the practice that makes the breath move evenly through both nostrils, creating balance and facilitating concentration, meditation and samadhi.

According to Krishnamacharya - "Anyone who can breathe, can practice yoga.”