Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and Ujjayi breathing
Allow Yoga to enter your life through the Ujjayi Breath… The Victorious Breath.
The essence of the Vinyāsa element in Ashtanga Vinyāsa Yoga is the synchronization between breath and movement.
The “Breath is Free” in “Ujjayi: victorious breath” initiates the movement, and flows with the breath in unison. The characteristic of breathing in Ujjayi is the soft and hissing sound emitted by inhalations and exhalations, they are performed nasally, only through the nose. As if we were drinking the perfume of a rose, the air is drawn to the back of the throat, where a slight contraction of the muscles that surround the glottis regulates the flow. But it is essential to rhythmically inhale and exhale the same amount of air when inhaling and exhaling since this equality sets the rhythm and the meditative aspects of the practice of Ashtanga Yoga.
When you practice ujjayi you discover the integral relationship between the breath and the bandhas; each of them acts as a closure or seal, and directs the pranic qualities of the Victorious Breath. The control of the bandhas requires a balance between strong and soft, it is not a complete closure, and its correct application will release the breath, causing an extremely positive effect, of internal strength and body lightness.
Synchronizing breathing and movement is fundamental in the practice of Vinyasa Yoga in general. Its direct translation in Sanskrit of the word vinyasa, vi means “to go”, “to move”, “to push forward”, “to conceive” or “to start from”, while nyasa means “to place”, “to plant” or “prostration” . Thanks to their investigation of the origins of this form of yoga, the guru Shri T. Krishnamacharya, and then his student, Shri K Pattabhi Jois, guru of Ashtanga Vinyāsa Yoga, discovered two important factors. First, that all the asanas or postures are linked in an exact sequence, and second, that entering and exiting each asana produces a precise number of synchronized transitions between breath and movement.
In his book Yoga Mala, Shri K Pattabhi Jois details how each asana begins with Samasthitih (the student is standing, ready to synchronize movement and breathing) and ends in the identical posture, with an exact number of synchronized transitions, or vinyasas. , in the middle.
These principles are introduced from the beginning with Surya Namaskara A (salutation to the sun A) that includes nine movements synchronized with the breath (vinyasas). For the sake of simplicity, the positions are given different names, but we are actually counting the transitions from one position to the next within the sequence.
These principles form the basis of the practice of Ashtanga Vinyāsa Yoga and are responsible for creating a system known for its graceful and flowing sequences of transitions and postures “intertwined with the thread of breath.” The three basic components that make these principles vinyasa are the ujjayi (victorious breathing), the bandhas, and the dristis. When the three unite, you reach the State of Tristhana.
From that moment on, those who practice Ashtanga Vinyāsa Yoga can move on to the sixth and seventh branches of Ashtanga: concentration and meditation.
Breathing can be considered the most crucial part of this practice, since it is the foundation of one’s own being, of health, and of the practitioner’s ability to have dominion over the mind.
In India it is believed that Wow, air, is one of the forms of God, because without air and breath we could not live. With proper breathing, the body receives enough oxygen even in the most difficult asanas, the muscles and tendons relax, the mind calms down, and the prana can circulate through the nadis. In this way, the body becomes light, flexible and strong and the mind, concentrated and stable. When the mind becomes still, the connection with the inner self is within reach.
The breathing done with the asana is different from the breathing done during pranayama. Inspiration and expiration are not as long during the asana, and there is no retention of air. In addition, during the practice of the asana, inspiration and expiration must have the same duration, that is, both last between 5 and 10 seconds, which will last during the final sequence.
A stable and calm breathing during the practice of asana creates an appropriate, harmonious rhythm and guarantees the body a sufficient amount of energy and oxygen. This breathing technique allows you to connect and strengthen your bandhas, purifies the body and releases tension through the accumulation of heat and the process of sweating. Regardless of the length of the breath, the lungs should be completely filled on inspiration and completely emptied on expiration.
If you listen to your breath and adjust the asana (and the movements in between) to the rhythm of the breath, the practice becomes precise, smooth, and meditative.
Om Shanti. 🙏❤🧘🏻♀
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Hari Om Tat Sat