Chandra Bhedana Pranayama

Chandra BhedanaChandra Bhedana Pranayama ~ Moon Piercing Breath.

Chandra Bhedana is not usually among the formal techniques listed in traditional texts, though it is believed that this practice has the opposite effects of surya bedhana/sun piercing breath; it quiets the brain, calms the mind and cools the body.

This technique should be avoided if you have asthma, low blood pressure, cough, cold or respiratory problems. (If you have one of these conditions, we encourage you to continue the practice of breath observation that we begin our pranayama practice with).

Chandra Bhedana should not be practiced on the same day as Surya Bhedana.

This technique should only be practiced during the summer, and should be avoided in winter.

Surya Bhedana Pranayama

Surya BhedanaThis week we are introducing Surya Bhedana Pranayama ~ Sun Piercing Breath to our breathing practice.

Surya Bhedana pranayama can activate and energize the Pingala Nadi, which is associated with the right nostril or the "sun" nadi and the sympathetic nervous system.

Traditionally, Surya Bhedana is said to stimulate the brain, awaken energy in the body and increase body heat.

This technique should be avoided if you have any heart conditions/surgeries, or if you have high blood pressure. (If you have one of these conditions, we encourage you to continue the practice of breath observation that we begin our pranayama practice with).

This breathing practice should be avoided in the summer months and should not be practiced on the same day as chandra bhedana pranayama (moon piercing breath).

Sama-Vritti Pranayama

Sama Vritti

Sama = equal

Vritti = fluctuation

In sama-vritti pranayama the length of inhale and exhale are regulated to become equal in length.

Why learn to practice this technique?

Sama Vritti calms the body by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and can be used to reduce stress and anxiety. The equal breathing technique helps focus the mind and can also be used in conjunction with meditation practice if desired.

Expand Your Yoga Practice with Pranayama & Meditation

meditation announcementThere is so much more to yoga than the physical poses but sometimes an hour is just not enough time to fit it all in!

From 14th March onward we are happy to be offering extended classes to explore some of the traditional practices of yoga to compliment your regular asana (physical) practice.
 
This will take place immediately after the 1 hour flow classes (excluding chair yoga), for approximately 15 minutes and will include:

  • Extended Savasana/relaxation (who doesn't love more relaxation time?!)
  • Pranayama (breathing practice)
  • Guided meditation

This part of the class is optional but highly recommended as a part of a rounded yoga practice. 

If you do not wish to participate in the extended practice:
There will be a single chime of the tingsha bells to indicate the end of the 1 hour class.
Gently make your way to a seated posture (you will not be prompted to do so by your instructor)
Take a moment of stillness and bring your hands to prayer at your heart to thank yourself for your practice  
Your instructor will bow to you (Namasté), feel free to return the gesture to close your practice.
Please leave the studio as quietly as possible so as not to disturb students remaining in relaxation.
 
If you wish to participate in the extended practice:
Remain in relaxation until there are 3 chimes of the tingsha bells.
You will be guided into a seated posture and through the Pranayama and meditation practices.

More information about pranayama and meditation, and why you should practice them can be found on this blog. Check back regularly as weekly updates will be added with additional information about the pranayama technique being practiced that week in the studio. 

As always, if you have any questions regarding public or private classes, or any of the information in this post, please don't hesitate to call, text or email!

Namasté

Shona

Sanskrit Word Of The Week: Pranayama


PranayamaPrāṇāyāma {pra-na-ya-ma} is the 4th limb of the 8 limbs of yoga as presented by Patañjali in the Yoga Sutras.

It can be translated as breath control or life force expansion. It consists of techniques designed to gain mastery over the respiratory process while recognizing the connection between the breath, the mind, and the emotions. 

Like any form of conditioning and training, Prāṇāyāma practices have beginning, intermediate, and advanced stages. What’s most important about the practice is to attend to them with patience, gentleness, and compassion.

Any level of practitioner can benefit from Prāṇāyāma and ike all yoga practices, it’s designed to meet us where we are.

What is Pranayama?

Breathe

How often do you stop and pay attention to your breath?

Do you notice even now that you’re only breathing into your chest?

Did you just take a big deep breath?!

Most of us have an incomplete breath pattern due to modern day life (stress, sitting, slouching, and habitual breathing patterns) but yoga can help!

Yoga is more than a physical practice of poses. Part of the practice of yoga includes pranayama which means breath control, or breath expansion. It is the process of noticing our habitual breath patterns and learning to control and/or expand the breath and consequently, your energy.

Through different pranayama techniques, you can learn to use the breath to calm yourself in stressful or fearful situations. You can use the breath to clear your mind and help you focus. On days where you’re feeling tired and sluggish, you can energize the body with the breath, whereas when you’re feeling the heat of the Texas summer, you can practice a technique to cool and calm the physical body and mind.

There are many different pranayama techniques, some are simple and some are very complex. Exploring pranayama can be a fantastic addition to a yogi’s practice.  It can empower you to change your mood, enhance your asana practice, and bring focus to your meditation.  It’s something you can practice anywhere, anytime!

Yoga Mudras: Abhaya Hridaya

An introduction to the fearless heart mudra.

This one is a little tricker than previous ones to get your hands around but is a great mudra to practice during times of stress or when you're feeling anxious. 

 

Namasté

Yoga Mudras: Hakini Mudra

An introduction to Hakini Mudra.

It's super simple to do and can help with concentration and memory which is especially useful if you do presentations at school or in meetings, or if you just have trouble remembering things!

It can also help with clarity of thought which in turn helps with decision making.

Check out this video to find out more about how, why, and when to use Hakini Mudra!

 

Namasté

New Chair Yoga Classes

We are excited to be adding Chair Yoga to our regular schedule!

This gentle yoga class will be held every Thursday 10-11am at Paradigm Yoga in Jasper.

Check out the video to learn more about what chair yoga is!

 

Namasté

Yoga Mudras: Jnana Mudra & Chin Mudra

Welcome back to our series of videos about the mudras (hand gestures) of yoga. This video introduces Jnana Mudra and Chin Mudra.

Jnana: knowledge/wisdom

Chin: consciousness

Mudra: seal or sign

Check out the video for more information on how, why and when to do these mudras!

 

Namasté

Yoga Mudras: Anjali Mudra

Welcome to the first in our series of videos about the mudras (hand gestures) of yoga. This video introduces Anjali Mudra (aka prayer position / salutation seal).

Anjali: offering

Mudra: seal or sign

How to do it: Simply join your hands, palm to palm, in front of your chest, fingers pointing upwards.

Why practice this gesture? This mudra is calming & centering, it connects you to your heart and evokes feelings of humility, reverence and devotion.

When to practice: This mudra can be practiced at any time you need to take a moment to center yourself.

Begin your yoga asana practice in sukhasana (easy crossed leg pose) taking a moment to hold this mudra while setting an intention for your practice. Explore using the gesture during asana (poses) such as tadasana (mountain), vrksasana (tree) and utkatasana (chair). Experiment using it during any other poses in which you wish to feel centered. Each time you practice the gesture notice the feeling of calm it brings, and come back to the intention you set at the beginning of your practice.

Try practicing this mudra in your next meditation, rooting your thumbs down towards the base of your sternum and holding the gesture for the duration of your meditation.

Namasté

The Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali

Yoga Sutras

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a compilation of classical yoga teachings that were passed down orally before Patanjali (also known as the 'father of yoga') recorded them.

Believed to be over 4000 years old, there are 196 sutras (literally meaning 'thread') that describe what yoga is, why it is important, how to practice it and what might come as a result of regular practice. It's teachings include ethics, meditation, physical postures and directions for dealing with obstacles and every day life.

The text is a lot to contemplate in one go! It is intended to be referred to again and again; at different times in your life and yogi journey, different sutras will speak to you.

These eight steps basically act as guidelines on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life. What Patanjali has described as the completion of the yogic path is what, deep down, all human beings aspire to: peace.

What is Yoga Nidra?

How often do you go to bed exhausted but then wake up feeling lethargic and tired? When we climb into bed and just fall asleep, the body shuts down but it is not necessarily relaxed and therefore not really recharging. Yoga Nidra is the practice of bringing awareness to your relaxation so that every part of your body and mind fully relax. It is believed that just thirty minutes to one hour of Yoga Nidra is equivalent to 4 hours of deep sleep. 

Yoga Nidra, though it may just look like yogis going to class to nap, is an ancient practice of mental, physical and emotional relaxation, also known as yogic sleep or sleep with awareness. The intention is to experience a sleep-like state and the deepest possible relaxation while still in a deep meditative state of consciousness.

At a time when most of us are living at a fast pace with technology overload and lots of stress, the practice of Yoga Nidra can help transfer you to a state of harmony and encourage an overall feeling of well-being. Yoga Nidra can be a wonderful addition to your yoga practice or can be used by anyone to help with stress and sleep. It can also be the pick-me-up you need during the day; a kind of supernap to get you going again (though I wouldn't recommend practicing Yoga Nidra immediately after a meal or it's likely you'll just be practicing nidra (i.e sleep) without the yoga bit)!

dreamcatcher.jpg

There are many benefits that can be experienced from practicing Yoga Nidra. Among these are:

  • improved quality of your sleep and amount of sleep 
  • less chronic pain 
  • reduced anxiety
  • enhanced mental focus and attention span
  • improved creativity and whole brain functioning
  • more ease and peace of mind in daily life
  • helps create new neural pathways in your brain leading to healthy habits & routines

 

One of the best things about Yoga Nidra is that you don't need to have been practicing it for 30 years to feel the benefits, you don't need to sit for long periods of time, and you don't need any previous experience or skills. All you need to do is find a comfortable place to lay undisturbed for the duration of the audio. During a class (or audio guidance) the teacher will use techniques such as guided imagery and body scanning to alleviate muscular tension as well as mental and emotional stress. 

The following link is to a 30 minute Yoga Nidra audio that I find is a good introduction to the practice as is especially designed for new students 

Yoga Nidra - Beginners instructed by Swami Niranjananda Saraswati . 

Finally, Yoga Nidra is super relaxing. There's a fine line between the meditative state of conscious relaxation, and being asleep. The relaxing nature of this practice may encourage you to fall asleep before it finishes, especially if you're practicing at night, and that's fine! Don't feel guilty! Just enjoy the super deep sleep you'll slip into.

 

Namasté

Shona

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