Pranayama

Pranayama

breathwork

PRANAYAMA

Pranayama helps us to more deeply connect to the energy that runs through us. This can be done via a variety of breathwork practices. It’s important to understand that the breath is the physical layer through which we can access prana (energy, or life force). There is great power in understanding how and when to move the breath in a specific way through our bodies. Different breath practices serve different purposes and have the ability to offer transformative experiences. In today’s video, Matt explains and demonstrates how and when to utilize various breath techniques to connect with and become more conscious of how breath moves within our bodies. 

Of course, having more knowledge about our anatomy helps increase the benefits of these breathwork techniques. As always, Matt infuses his teachings with anatomy education to give us a broader and more complete picture.

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GET TO KNOW THE DIAPHRAGM

The diaphragm is the “breathing muscle” we tend to be more familiar with, but there are other muscles that participate in this natural function. In the video, Matt explains that the diaphragm at rest is in a balloon-like shape and up towards the sternum during the exhalation of the breath. When we inhale, the diaphragm contracts and flattens downward. If we visualize the movement of the diaphragm as we participate in focused breathwork practices, we can better control where we would like to place the breath in our bodies. As we discuss the various breathwork techniques, we comprehend better why it may be more appropriate to direct the breath more downward into the belly or more upward into the thoracic area of the body.

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PRANAYAMA: UNDERSTANDING THE POWER OF BREATHWORK

FIND THE ENTRY POINT

One of the most important factors of breathwork is to connect with the sensations we’re experiencing. To better prepare our mind and body, we can use a technique that acts as a doorway or entry point into pranayama.

Padadhirasana, or pranayama preparation, is a way to balance the nervous system. In this practice, from a seated position, we place our hands underneath the armpits. Because we continuously fluctuate between favoring either the sympathetic or the parasympathetic nervous system, the practice is thought to aid in stimulating the nostrils (or, if one so chooses, the left- or the right-side nostril), which directly connects to stimulating the sides of the brain. This fluctuation may manifest by experiencing less opening through either nostril. In the video, we learn how to stimulate the appropriate side.

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TYPES OF PRANAYAMA

Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)

Nadi Shodhana has a calming effect. This is useful when trying to stimulate the parasympathetic system. In the video, this is where we can practice options for how to manipulate the diaphragm.

Dirgha Pranayama (3-Part Breath)

We start with the expansion of the belly on the inhale, which then goes to the ribs and to the collar bone. On the exhale, the pathway is reversed.

Kapalabhati (Skull-Shining Breath)

This is a more energetic breath technique that can be very helpful in increasing energy and as a preparation for the asana practice. The exhalation is emphasized here, which strengthens the transversus abdominis (the deepest abdominal muscle).

Bhastrika (Bellows Breath)

Bhastrika is also an energizing breath practice; however, both the inhale and the exhale are emphasized.

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A POWERFUL TOOL

These pranayama techniques are powerful tools that can facilitate greater connection with the distribution of energy—in an asana practice or off the mat, during our other daily activities. In times of stress, we can shift into the parasympathetic, and if we require more energy, we can rely on practices like Kapalabhati or Bhastrika. Even though it is easy to become complacent about how we experience our energy or breathing patterns, we actually have the power to transform our experiences by simply incorporating these practices into our daily lives. 

Matt’s Spring registration for his 200 and 300 Hr. Teacher  Training programs begins on June 1. Pranayama, connected to both anatomy and philosophy, enriches both our own understanding and the experiences of our students.  This is the Chromatic way. Click here for more information about these life-changing teacher training programs.

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Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Breath Of Fire Immersion and Move Breathe Release Immersion

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Strengthen Your Diaphragm

Strengthen Your Diaphragm

Resistance-Band Breath Technique

breathe

STRENGTHEN YOUR DIAPHRAGM

Strengthening your diaphragm. Is that a thing? It absolutely is, just like any other muscle you develop and strengthen in your body. The diaphragm is arguably one of the most important because it is one of the main muscles that helps you breathe. How do you strengthen the diaphragm? One way to work with this muscle is to engage it. This happens naturally when we inhale, of course, because of the natural movement that occurs: The diaphragm moves downward towards the lower vertebrae in order to create space, while the vacuum of pressure pulls air into the lungs. What Matt demonstrates today is not this natural engagement but instead a sustained engagement in order to work on the endurance and strengthening of the diaphragm.

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BHASTRIKA PRANAYAMA

Maintaining the sustained engagement of the diaphragm may sound reasonably simple; however, it may be quite uncomfortable if it’s something you’ve never practiced before. In order to train your body and nervous system for the mechanics of each movement and/or drill ahead, Matt prepares you in his current immersion, Breath of Fire, with a breath technique at the beginning of each class. 

Bhastrika pranayama is the ideal pairing for the resistance-band technique that Matt demonstrates in today’s video. Bhastrika pranayama is referred to as Breath of Fire, or Bellows Breath. This breath technique involves emphasis and effort on both the inhale and the exhale. Practicing a few rounds with multiple repetitions gets the brain on board, particularly with the action of the inhale. The action of pushing your belly out on the inhale provides more force, focus, and movement of your diaphragm.

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STRENGTHEN YOUR DIAPHRAGM: RESISTANCE BAND BREATH TECHNIQUE

HOW DOES BHASTRIKA COMPARE TO KAPALABHATI?

So, why not Kapalabhati pranayama as preparation for the resistance-band technique Matt explores today? It’s because the difference between Bhastrika and Kapalabhati is where the emphasis is placed in the breath. With Bhastrika, the inhale is quite active, whereas with Kapalabhati, the inhale is passive. This creates more emphasis on the exhale and the movement “in and up” of the transversus abdominis. Visually, the two breathing practices may appear very similar, but the sensation and experience are quite different.  

Matt advises you to build gradually. For example, you may start with 15 repetitions and then gradually move your way up to 30. The goal is to gradually become more familiar with pushing your belly out, thus moving the diaphragm down in order to train it for strength. What becomes apparent is that you actually affect more than the diaphragm. You tap into connections with other core muscles.

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  • Learn techniques for a wide range of yoga postures
  • Get certified and highly qualified to teach yoga
  • Yoga Alliance Globally Recognized Certification Program

MORE THAN YOUR ABDOMINALS

Your core is much more than just your abdominal muscles. The exercise Matt breaks down today requires quite a bit of work from your iliopsoas muscles, which are also part of your core. Creating strength in the diaphragm includes exploring sustained engagement outside of isolation, and activating the iliopsoas in conjunction with the diaphragm means that you are incorporating more of your core muscles and therefore creating more integrity within the whole “core system.” The act of pushing your belly down and out on both the inhale and the exhale also supports the connection with the core muscles in your back body (e.g., erector spinae and multifidus).

300 hour teacher training online

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GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

Master your skill set as a teacher through refined techniques, anatomy, biomechanics, sequencing, philosophy, meditation techniques, theming, yoga business, and much more!

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  • Learn meditation and breathwork techniques
  • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang

RESISTANCE-BAND BREATH TECHNIQUE

First of all, if you’re familiar with the core exercise called Dead Bug, you’ll be familiar with the basic mechanics of this exercise. What may be new for you is the consistent activation of your diaphragm while executing the core work.

What role does a resistance band play with this breath/core technique? Well, as Matt explains it, the band acts somewhat like the transverse abdominis and is there to entice you to pull your belly in and up. What you will actually do is push your belly down and out, into the band.

This action, in addition to the cross action of pressing your opposite hand into your thigh and the thigh into your hand, is what engages your iliopsoas muscles.

This is much harder than it appears. Of course the level of difficulty is increased due to the balance factor, but it’s really the engagement of your diaphragm that multiplies the sensations in this technique.

Expand on this experience in Matt’s current immersion, Breath Of Fire. Delve into deeper knowledge of your core muscles in order to both breathe and move better.

See you on the mat!

The 200 Hr. Teacher Training: Click Here to See the Next Start Date

The 300 Hr. Advanced Teacher Training: Click Here to See the Next Start Date

Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Breath Of Fire Immersion

Yoga for Core and Breathwork

BREATH OF FIRE

  • Moderate Vinyasa-style classes
  • Core strengthening & integration
  • Master your breath with pranayama practices
  • Access your core in arm balances, heart openers, twists, forward folds, inversions, and more
  • Learn where and how to breathe in challenging postures
  • Each class will include one pranayama (breathwork practice) and several core strengtheners
  • Access your core muscles: deep, superficial, anterior, posterior, and lateral 
  • 12 Classes: All levels appropriate
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
  • Attend the livestream OR practice the replays any time that’s convenient for you

$148.00

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THE FREE TECHNIQUE PACK

When You Subscribe, You Will Get Instant Access to

  • the Technique Pack: 15 yoga pose breakdowns
  • exclusive online course discounts
  • exclusive blogs and videos
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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