The chakras are organizational centers in our body that receive, assimilate, store and express or transmit energy. Expanding & condensing with each breath.
Like electricity, our energy or prana is our vital life force. Think of the chakras as describing the architecture of the human soul. Just as we understand the architecture of the physical body with its bones, muscles and organs, the architecture of the soul revels the inner psychology of how we respond to life. From past experience we may allow the energy to flow freely and at other times we may unconsciously block the flow from past hurts creating blockages. Lodged in our body, memories of past habits encapsulate our routines. Our belief systems & emotions may get stuck where at one time they may have served us, but now they are out dated. So just by the virtue of our 8 limb yoga practice, we are able to shift out-dated beliefs, opening space with asana, pranayama & our meditation practice. We open the channels of energy back up through our body/mind to flow more freely. We get the yoga glow where we feel balanced again, aligned & relaxed in our center.
Join me in this upcoming workshop so we can explore how different asanas create new conditions in our body/mind, and a sense of wholeness. In this workshop we will explore how energy travels through the chakra system awakening the intelligence of the body. Finding our balance & alignment in our asana practice provides the foundation for our mind to rest and relaxes you into your center.
OPEN UP CHAKRA SPACE IN THE BODY
The core or our sushuna is inside the spine and like the nerve pathways that branch out into the body, our vayus are the energetic pathways that our prana or lifeforce flows through the body branching out of our sushuna. Our asana practice depending on the poses we choose, enhance the energetic flow or prana through joints, muscles, connective tissue as well as organic body. This gives us our vitality, the glow of our inner self expanding outwardly. In this workshop the poses we will be practicing will benefit the digestive, repiratory & endocine systems.
Challenge yourself to let go in this dynamic asana practice including twists, back bends and inverted poses that will benefit those areas. Some of the poses not including all are Digestive- revolved standing poses, marichyasana lll, ardha matsyendrasana, pasasana, parivrtta janu sirsasana, & pascimottanasana. Endocrine/Respiratory- Parivritta Eka Pad Sirsasana, pincha mayurasana, urdhva danurasana, dwi pad vipritta dandasana, padmasana in sarvangasana, setubandha sarvangasana drops. Gain practical skills and receive helpful adjustments to improve your practice.
Paula’s personal passion and interest is yoga, which she has been studying since 1976. As a teacher, she is a certified Jr. Int.2 level Iyengar instructor, accredited through the Yoga Alliance E-RYT 500hr, and certified through Namaste International. In her training she is well versed and has studied with many senior International teachers within the lineage of Krishnmacharya. As a yoga therapist and psychotherapist, she uses yoga philosophy to facilitate people’s development of a stronger relationship with themselves as it relates to vitality & well-being.
A Sanskrit word meaning control of the breath or life force, the practice of Pranayama is often viewed as an ancient science in its own right.
Pranayama is the fourth limb of Yoga in accordance to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, dating back between 200 BCE – 500 CE.
Fast forward to modern day, and you can find Pranayama techniques in the Third Metric, Mindfulness, or Stress Relief Columns on your favorite news sites.
In the West, we seem to be fixated on the benefits of the Third limb of yoga — Yoga Asana or postures. In fact, many studies you will find on Yoga are based strictly on postures in general.
How the Breath Works
In the simplest of terms, we automatically inhale, the lungs fill with oxygen, and we exhale carbon dioxide.
This involuntary mechanism is what keeps our hearts pumping fresh, oxygenated blood throughout the body.
It is a rather unique motor function in the sense that it is both involuntary and voluntary.
Voluntary Control of the Breath
Voluntary control of the breath is activated, broadly, in the motor cortex of the brain. Talking and singing are good examples of how we can behaviorally control the breath for a short time.
With focus, you can, to a degree, control the length of your inhalation and exhalation.
The Effect of Stress on the Nervous System
In a nutshell, the autonomic nervous system is divided into the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) — the “fight or flight” response — and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) involved in bringing the body back to homeostasis, or “rest and digest.” In this day and age, much of the stress we see here in the West is attributed to psychological stress.
Things like worrying, being late to work, getting stuck in traffic, and occasional life-threatening moments activate the SNS response that once was more consumed with not dying in the wilderness.
The biological responses seen with stress are pretty obvious: increased heart rate, shortness of breath, clenching of muscles, halting of digestion, etc.
In this day and age, many of us respond to physical stressors and psychological stressors in the same way. This becomes problematic in the long run due to the physiological and behavioral effects of continual activation of the SNS.
Being consistently in a GO, GO, GO mentality means we are continually wreaking havoc on our minds and bodies, placing our “normal” resting baseline at a higher level.
Pranayama and Its Effect on the PNS
Ever been told to take a long, deep breath and slowly count to ten to calm down and focus?
In most cases, when we are at a stress level of “10,” that concentration of the breath and counting slowly decreases our stress response by the time we count down to one.
With some voluntary control of the breath, we are able to activate the “rest and digest” Parasympathetic Nervous System, in turn bringing our baseline and cortisol levels back down to whatever is considered normal for your body.
Most Pranayama techniques aid in activation of the PNS. There are some techniques that allow for the heat-building energy created by our breaths to be focused in on a general area of the body, gaining an energetic edge when practicing some yoga postures.
A Pranayama technique that we will focus on in this article is one of many that can help in activating the PNS and, in turn, bring us to a calmer, more peaceful state.
This breath is often called the “victorious” breath and is often used during yoga asana practice.
It resembles ocean waves or the sound of Darth Vader.
It encourages full expansion of our lungs on the inhalation and full expelling of the lungs on our exhalation with an emphasis on directing the airflow during exhalation to the back of the throat with a slightly more forceful audible “Ha” sound.
Combine this breathing through the nose with a longer exhalation than inhalation, and it can almost instantly calm and refresh the mind.
Lie down on your back and place your left hand on your heart and your right hand on your belly. Take a steady breath in through the nose.
Inhale until you reach your lung capacity and feel your left hand rise. Hold your breath for a second, then constrict some of the breath at the back of your throat, as if you were about to fog up a mirror, and exhale slowly through the nose. Notice the fall of your right hand as your fully expire the air from your lungs.
This exhalation will sound like an ocean wave or kind of like Darth Vader.
You should feel the warm air on the roof of your mouth upon your slow exhalation. Stay with this for 10 breaths and play with a longer, slower length of exhalation. Notice how this calms your senses when controlling the length of your exhale.
There are many other Pranayama techniques that have been used for thousands of years for differing purposes.
For this day and age, a greater emphasis on balance and slowing down in our daily lives can help us to reach a better state of contentment, happiness, and inner peace.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tina Ward is a professional scientist and yogini. She teaches and subs at Krama Yoga Center. You can catch her every Thursday @ 6pm for a gentle class for all levels.
Choosing the right yoga training is a big commitment and special consideration should be taken before jumping in. The training should work with your schedule and budget of course. Many people think for a training to be legit, it needs to be Yoga Alliance-certified as that's how many programs are marketed around the world. While I love the intention behind the Yoga Alliance, I have conflicting feelings about what is going on. Based on my 12 years of being in the yoga industry, I have listed some helpful things to consider before choosing a training program.
What is Yin and Yoga Nidra? What are the benefits?
The original purpose of Yin was to prepare the body for long hours of meditation without physical discomfort. Today, being in the west we are accustom to sitting in chairs and desks which creates tightness and restricts flexibility. There are several benefits behind Yin yoga including better range of motion in the joints, increased flexibility in the muscles and a calmer mind.
For me, downward dog is a foundational posture and a staple in my physical practice. I enjoy the challenges (and rewards) of continuously refining this posture even after 12 years of practice. In my yoga trainings, I teach around 15 different actions to refine the pose. Here are 3 ways you can begin to improve your downward facing dog pose, adho mukha svanasana, immediately.
The MISSION of Krama Yoga Center is to provide sacred space for those seeking a better quality of life.
The BENEFITS of Yoga can be felt immediately and seen over time. Benefits are accessible to anyone regardless of fitness level, age, experience or background.
Our INTENTION is not to simply bring you a healthier body and peace of mind. These are byproducts of the Yoga practice. The aim of Yoga is about experiencing oneness, cultivating a mind capable of concentration and a heart free of judgment. The gifts of this mystical journey happen to include a radiant body and a joyful existence.
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