Latest posts by Erica (see all)
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The modern day problem – although breathing is an activity we were born with, and generally we do not need to learn how to perform it, we turn to breathe in a shallow way, especially in times of anxiety and stress. It has also become common for people to assume unnatural positions for long periods of time due to the nature of their jobs, eg. in a sedentary job, we often sit slumped in our chairs. This restricts our full breathing capacity and makes breathing intervals shorter and faster.
The role of breath is critical in the practice of asanas. In performing asanas, we learn to let the movement follow the breath, let the breath guide the movement, which eventually leads to the body effortlessly riding the waves of the breath. At this point it is not we who move the body, but rather the power of our breath. We become able to breathe into every single cell, which is equivalent to spreading energy or “prana” throughout all parts of the body.
When we focus on breathing, the control of breathing shifts from brain stem / medulla oblongata to cerebral cortex (evolved part of brain). Any emotion, stress or random thoughts are removed or subdued. Emotions create tension in muscles, stiffness and blockages to the flow of energy. Awareness of the breath and focusing on it help makes prana free flowing.
Focus on the breath also assists in controlling the movements, which can reduce the risk of injury. Our muscles can work in a systematic way with greater coordination with the nervous system, which constantly transmit information and feedback to the muscles to take appropriate action to complete the intended movement.
In the practice of Ashtanga Primary Series, we adopt a breathing technique called Ujjayi or victorious breath. …read more