The practice of yoga brings you back to YOU, where all the good stuff is. When you rest your attention on your breath, instead of your thinking, your creativity and intuition have room to surface.
Maintaining steady, rhythmic breathing is the single most important element of yoga practice. Your breath is what links your mind to your body, and you to the present moment. Try it now. Close your eyes and follow your breath for a moment and see where it leads you. When you follow your breath, your instincts kick in and help guide you to the things you need to stay healthy. Ujjayi is the breath used during the NPY flow classes. It is an audible oceanic breath, in and out through the nose. The sound is created by a slight constriction of the glottis (your whispering muscles) in the back of the throat. This constriction allows you to slow down the breath and synchronize the movements with the breath. Ujjayi breath creates internal heat in the body, which helps to detoxify the body and warm the muscles. It is also deeply relaxing as the breath is slow and full. Because it is audible it is used as a focal point throughout the practice.
Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to do it:
1. Bring your first or second finger to the soft spot between your collarbones.
2. With your mouth closed, breathe in through your nose, feeling the gentle retraction of those muscles beneath your finger. It should feel as though you are whispering in reverse. You are closing the airways a little, so it’s kind of like breathing through a straw.
3. For the exhalation, put your hand in front of your face as if it’s a mirror. Gently retract your stomach and, with your mouth closed and muscles in your throat still contracted, exhale through your nose as if you were going to fog up that mirror. The exhalation is exaggerated and extended. It is important to keep your mouth closed or you will lose energy on the exhalation. This is the ujjayi breath. In and out, in and out……..deep and free, rhythmic and steady. The volume of your breath both on the inhale and exhale should be equal to each other.
Just relax and let it be effortless.