Thursday, May 11, 2006

breathing is life

I use so-ham breathing which I learned from reading a book in a London ashram during a yoga weekend - it also helps me fall asleep

Sanskrit & Sánscrito - Blog in English: Misconceptions 2: "The natural sound produced when you breathe in and out can be meditated on in order to attain high levels of consciousness.
The ancient yogii-s tried to put into words those spontaneous/universal sounds, and they concluded that the monosyllabic Sanskrit seed-sounds 'ha' (inhalation) and 'sa' (exhalation) were a good approximation, but not perfect obviously.
However, the goal when you practice this technique is not only to perceive the sounds produced by your breathing process, but to focus your attention in between (i.e. between 'ha' and 'sa'). If you do that, you will end up listening to a profound sound known as Om (the sacred Pranáva). This generally happens after a certain period of time, of course."so ham breathing - Google Search

A mantra is something else - I would describe it as an aide memoire useful in attaining a particular or yogic state of mind which you may have attained once before helped by the prescence teacher who gave you the mantra.

As a wind player and singing I had learned diaphragmatic breath control at the Guildhall School of Music so I found it easy to adapt to and adopt yogic brething

London actors talk of intercostals and inflating the chest increases resonance of the voice - a sensation of yawning lowers the glottis and increases throat resonance - and the meme mmee nasal tonal exercise gets the soft palate into an optimal position for speaking clearly to the back of a theatre.

I had a conversation on a train with an expert danish gymnastic and yoga teacher and asked why the physical training traditional chest raising breathing exercise was taught in schools and the army.

Her answer was, "Because it looked better for massed gymnastic displays" so popular in the 1930ies for example

copyright the owners from

Geri Halliwell's figure may have softened with impending motherhood but when she first revealed her ultra-toned 'yoga body', celebrity gossip magazine readers gave a collective gasp. We asked Geri’s yoga teacher, Katy Appleton for her top tips on beating summer stress.

Tip 1 Abdominal Breath
Awareness – is on the quality of breath, relaxing the body, and rise and fall of abdomen.

Benefit - Breath into your belly, allow it to expand gently when you inhale and relax as you exhale. This will bring the energy deeper into your being and oxygen into the bottom of your lungs.

The technique

1. Abdominal breathing is best done lying on your back flat on the ground. Place one hand on the abdomen. The ideal spot to place the hand is over the belly button.

2. Now take a deep, slow breath using as much of the lower part of your belly as possible. As you inhale, feel the abdomen rising and expanding into your hand and as you exhale feel the abdomen lower. Really feel your hand rise and fall as you breathe. Don't look at your belly; keep your head flat on the ground, just try and feel the motion.

3. Continue this practice for a minute or so.

Tip 2 Full Yogic Breath
Awareness – is on the quality of breathing, relaxing the body and feeling the various parts of the belly, ribs and chest rise and fall.

Benefit – Practise this type of breathing on a regular basis and it will energise your whole being and it can also be used to relax in times when feeling agitated.

The technique

1. Lie flat on the ground or sit comfortably in a cross-legged position. Place cushions under the buttocks if needed, the important thing is to be relaxed and comfortable, with the spine as straight as possible. If the back is very uncomfortable, try sitting against a wall.

2. Place one hand on the abdomen and the other on the chest to feel them rising and lowering as you breath.

3. Inhale slowly and deeply, feeling the abdomen expand as you inhale. Once the stomach is reasonably full, continue to inhale through the ribcage, and finally feel the air filling the upper chest.

4. Pause for just a moment and then begin your exhalation. As you exhale, feel your chest sink and relax first, then let all the breath out of the body until none is left, just a feeling of emptiness, with no strain at the bottom, just quiet. Pause for just a moment, enjoy that stillness and quiet and wait for the in breath to arrive once more; and so the journey of breath continues.

5. Feel each part of the body expand and contract as you inhale and exhale. Always be relaxed, always keep your breathing at a steady pace and always stay completely aware on each breath and pause. It is so easy for the mind to wander off and you really won't experience the true benefits if you don’t completely absorb yourself with the breath.

Tip 3 Ujjayi Breath
Awareness - is on the throat, the sound and the lengthening of breath.

Benefit – Ujjayi breathing helps to calm the nervous system and focus the mind as well as heat the body within.

The technique

1. Sit comfortably with a straight spine. Begin breathing deeply through the nostrils. Concentrate only on the inhalation and exhalation.

2. As your awareness becomes attached to the breathing, transfer your focus from the nostrils to the throat. Now imagine that your breath is being drawn in and out of the throat, as if the breath is taking place through a small hole in the throat.

3. As the breathing becomes slower and deeper, release the chin into the chest slightly - this closes the glottis (the glottis is the flap of skin above the windpipe which helps to stop food from going down the windpipe). This produces a gentle hissing or snoring sound, which should be smooth and steady as you breathe.

4. Both inhalation and exhalation should be long, deep and controlled.

5. Practise Full Yogic Breathing while you concentrate on the sound in the throat produced by the breath. The sound shouldn't be too loud. It should be heard just by the person doing it and not another person unless they are sitting close.

6. Continue for up to 10 minutes, however, beginners may want to do shorter sittings until you feel comfortable with the technique.

Tip 4 Alternate Nostril Breathing
Awareness – is on the rhythm and quality of the breath

Benefit – Calms the mind and body and regulates the breathing tempo and brings equilibrium to the entire system. It can also help if you have trouble sleeping.

Have you ever noticed that you are generally able to breathe more easily through one nostril than the other? Or that you may be completely blocked up on one side, and then twenty minutes later it is the other nostril that is blocked? None of this should surprise us. The breath alternates between the right and left nostril about every 90 minutes in a healthy person. If you are unable to breathe through one nostril for over two hours it could be a sign of impending illness.

The Hand Position

Take your left hand and place it on the left knee. Take your right hand and make a fist and then open the thumb and two end fingers straight. Maintain this hand position throughout, and you should always close the right nostril with the right thumb and the left nostril with the ring finger throughout.

The technique

Lift your hand position to your face and take a deep, slow inhalation,

Close the right nostril with the right thumb and exhale slowly...

1. Inhale through the left nostril a smooth and steady breath.

2. When you have completed a full inhalation, close the left nostril with your ring finger. Remove the thumb to open the right nostril.

3. Exhale through the right nostril a smooth and steady breath.

4. When you have a completed a full exhalation, inhale through the right nostril a smooth and steady breath.

5. When you have completed a full inhalation, close the right nostril with your thumb. Remove the ring finger to open the left nostril.

6. Exhale through the left nostril a smooth and steady breath

7. This is one complete round. Repeat up to 10-12 times.

Tip 5 Nada Yoga – the yoga of sound
Awareness – is on the sound, its vibration and length and tone.

Benefit – Sounds create vibrations and these vibrations then sift through the energy body releasing any blockages and creating flow again to our being. The focus of sound helps concentrate and calm the mind, which then has a positive knock-on effect to the body. Sound is also very uplifting and can change moods.

Yoga uses chanting in order to create vibratory changes in your state of consciousness. Think of yourself as a radio with the chanting adjusting the frequency to find the clearest station. That clear station is a higher state of consciousness.

The technique



Inhale deeply and then simply make the sound 'Aaahhhhh' as you exhale. Try to be aware of where the sound is vibrating within your body and then direct it down towards the pelvis. Focus on that vibration for the duration of the exhalation. Inhale and repeat two more times.


Inhale deeply and then make the sound 'Ooouuuuu' as you exhale. This time the sound should vibrate around the heart area. Focus on that vibration for the duration of the exhalation. Inhale and repeat two more times.


Finally, inhale deeply and make the sound 'Mmmmmmm' as you exhale. You can make this sound with your lips sealed. The vibration should resonate most powerfully in the area of the throat and up towards your third eye centre, situated between the eyebrows. Focus on that vibration for the duration of the exhalation. Inhale and repeat two more times.

Traffic light continual sound

Now bring the tones together in one breath.

Inhale and let the breath out in a 'Aaahhhhooouuuuuummmmmmmmmmmm'. Allow the 'M' to vibrate until the end of your exhalation. Focus on the sound, on the vibration, and on lengthening the exhalation. Take a deep inhalation and try again at least another two more times.

Tip 6 Nada Yoga – the yoga of Sound
Nada Yoga – the yoga of Sound

Awareness – is on the sound, its vibration and length and tone.

Benefit – Humming helps to reduce anxiety and make you feel calm; it can also give you lots more energy.

The technique

Make a Mmmmmmmm sound for a long as comfortable then take a long breath and begin again. Do this at least 12 times and see what happens!
Tip 7 Lion
Awareness – This isn't a vocal sound: just exhale for long as long as you can, and no baby lions - go for it!

Benefit – Releases aggression; tones the face and neck; relieves sore throats.

The technique

Assume a comfortable kneeling position with the buttocks resting on the heels. Keep the back straight.

1. Place your hands on your knees and straighten the body.

2. Inhale and scrunch you face up - imagine you have just tasted something bitter.

3. Now all at once: as you exhale through your mouth, stick your tongue out (try and touch your chin with your tongue) and look up with wide eyes. Your body should come slightly forward, the hands should flex, and all that air should pour out in a big soundless roar.

Repeat 3-6 times.


Post a Comment

<< Home