26 December 2016

a lovely spiritual secret

Image result for lotus flower drawing


Meditation technique

In our previous post I gave a channelled technique for balancing mind & emotions, sympathetic & parasympathetic nervous systems (which together comprise the Autonomic Nervous System), stimulating the eyebrow centre, brumadhya, which in turn directly affects the 3rd eye, Ajna chakra. And the technique leads one directly into meditation. So, all up, it's a real blessing, & so easy to do.

A secret blessing

But there is another direct effect, too. We have a chakra on the end of our nose, on the nose tip. Previously I had been taught that the nose tip, & the sense of smell, was directly related to Mooladhara chakra, the base chakra, & I even once found a site which gave clear directions as to how the nose tip nerves linked into the brain, the part of the brain that is believed to be the brain site of mooladhara chakra. And I believed all this, too. Because that's what "they", those who "knew it all", were saying.

Now, I am not so sure. I can actually "see" a tiny chakra on the nose tip. I am now more inclined to believe that it is it's own entity. It feels as though it is it's own entity. And the technique that I gave on the last post, stimulates this wee chakra. I am not too sure of the colour of it as yet. But I can tell you that it is to do with exalted states of mind. Bliss. Sublime vibrations.

The Divine scent

And the smell of sandalwood. The smell of the scent which comes from the nose tip chakra, produces a spiritual type of euphoria...and it is in itself, a very balanced, clear, & Divine state. One is completely The Silent witness with this smell. Somehow the nose tip is connected to brumadhya, the eyebrow centre, & also connected to The Silent Witness, Ajna Chakra. So we are talking about a very high state of consciousness & energy, here.

It is not the base chakra

It does not feel as though one is "sitting in" the reptilian brain (where the common site of mooladhara chakra is believed by many, to be, as already mentioned), with the smell of sandalwood emanating from oneself!!! 

The reptilian part of the brain is "one of the 3 major areas of the brain, & is named the reptilian brain because it includes the main structures found in a reptile's brain: the brainstem & cerebellum). This area of the brain controls the body's vital functions, such as heart rate, breathing, body temperature, & balance." (thebrain.mcgill.ca) This area of the brain is still functioning when we have spiritual experiences.

How could it not? But, due to my own experiences, I seriously question whether it is the site of mooladhara chakra. And whether the sense of spiritual smell is mooladhara chakra. I know that the sense of smell has been associated with mooladhara, but I am saying here, most definitely, that this seems to be a different experience, with the nosetip chakra. And I am very open to being proved wrong...or right...whatever.

The smell is faint & fleeting, at first, but then, over time it becomes more & more strong & lasts longer. It will last as long as one is in that state of consciousness & energy!

And this could be why the scent of sandalwood is so prized in incense & oils. In some way, we can get a mild glimpse of a sublime state through the smell.

Beginning technique

Nosetip gazing, whereby the eyes are gently slit, & one gazes at the nose tip, is an excellent beginning technique for this chakra.

You can read someone's experience of a nasal chakra awakening here. They are not my experiences. And I do feel that my experiences differ because I have "worked my way up" the chakras, so I have already had many weird & wonderful experiences.

I have seen the nosetip chakra on Ascension sites & such. It is not a "new" chakra that only special, evolved people have or get.....it is, however, an integral part of the overall chakra system. And, it has not been included much in the scheme of things. I suspect that this is because it doesn't seem to "fit" in with the kundalini/spine ascension. 

And also because one has to go up very high in consciousness & energy for the awakening of this beautiful chakra. In other words, if you don't get up high enough in the spiritual scheme of things, you won't discover the secret of the nosetip chakra.


16 December 2016

A Christmas gift from me to you

Image result for ajna chakra 3rd eye
An offering

I  hope that I have not been too harsh, saying that yoga teachers need to do a bit of practice. It doesn't have to be a lot, but it does need to suit you, your time, & your needs.

And, I would like to offer you all a tidbit, as Christmas gift.

Pranayama precedes meditation

Sometimes it can be quite difficult to still for a few minutes each day & meditate. One's mind can be so restless! A very easy way to rectify this is to do some pranayama before you do meditation...but, when we are time crunched, this can be just another stressor, adding to our "have to do" list. 

A lovely channelled technique that I teach, & also do myself, combines both pranayama & meditation, &, you get results very quickly, so that if you are pushed for time, you can fit in both pranayama & meditation, quite quickly, & effortlessly. 

Here it is:

  • Sit, with palms under your armpits (not in, but under) with thumbs on the front of the torso.
  • Relax your jaw, & around the eyes (reduces tension). 
  • Eyes closed. 
  • Be aware of the breath flowing in & out of both nostrils, evenly. 
  • Then up & down both nostrils, to & from the eyebrow centre. 
  • The next step is to visualise the breath in each nostril as a thread of gold, going in & out, up & down - to & from the eyebrow centre. (This will create an inverted V shape).
  • Add "So" on each inhale, "Ham" (pronounced "hum") ...
  • After a short while, remove your hands, if you wish, into any comfortable position. 
  • Keep going with the golden thread & "So-Ham". 
  • Let any thoughts, any sensations, any sounds, continue in the background, keeping a relaxed focus on the technique. 
  • Be the Silent Witness, the knower, the observer. & allow yourself to just be.


This simple, yet very effective, technique, is so profound. 

  • It will harmonise mindstuff & emotions, & will calm both aspects down. 
  • It will bring you to one-pointedness. 
  • You can do it lying down without the hands under the armpits, for a relaxation. 
  • You can incorporate it into your classes, &, in this case, do it at the end of the class, as pranayama & meditation. 
  • Or, incorporate into relaxation at the end of the class. 
  • The reason for doing this after poses, is that it will harmonise the breath in both nostrils. In other words, both nostrils will flow in unison. 

When they both are flowing evenly, the brain activity changes. Our spiritual energy kicks in. We go onto a lovely altered state. A sublime & very relaxed, yet quietly energised, state. This is not the state that we need for doing poses! We need a more physical energy for vinyasa, sun salutes, etc. And that is a flow of breath in the right nostril, not both together.


For beginners, you can teach this over a few weeks:

  • Just teach a bit at a time, as described above. 
  • Do the 1st bit for a week or 2, up & down nostrils. 
  • Then the next week or 2, add to & from eyebrow centre. 
  • Then So- Ham, 
  • then golden threads. 
  • This could all take 4 - 8 weeks. 
Such an excellent technique for classes of 1 hour or less.

Doing this regularly will have a profound effect on the energy flow in each nostril. The energy will flow there anyway. It just does. 

But, & this is important, we can awaken a higher, stronger energy flow there. At 1st, as it awakens, the flows will move up & down the nostrils in a wobbly motion. They will straighten in time. And, of course, the eyebrow centre, Brumadhya, will become stimulated, indirectly affecting Ajna chakra, the 3rd eye, inside the head.

Something else amazing & lovely, will happen too.....& we shall talk about this on the next post.

9 December 2016

The Sun Never Says

 Another poem by the great Sufi Master & mystic, Hafiz



The Sun Never says:

Even

After

All this time

The sun never says to the earth,


"You owe 

Me".

Look 

What happens

With a love like that,

It lights the 

Whole

Sky




8 December 2016

looking after yourself as a yoga teacher

                   Image result for yoga at home

Yoga at home


I know that I often go on & on about this, but, for ethics sake, if one is teaching something like meditation, or postures...then one should really be doing some practice themselves.


And we all have times when this is difficult to do:


  • such as when we have injuries
  • or a family member is unwell
  • the kids are so little that you are lucky enough to even get a shower
  • or you have been sick, in which case...no poses, etc, is the order of the day.

Difficulties around teaching

Teaching yoga is really easy on one hand..... if, for example:

  • there is no-one with any injuries in your class (which really is rare), 
  • you don't take many classes, 
  • or perhaps you don't have to travel far to teach. 
These are seldom the case, however. I travel far & wide to teach, & I know that others do too. And I teach quite a few classes. These factors are quite tiring. But, we yoga teachers do need to keep our energy up!

Depending on doing our own asanas whilst taking a class, is exhausting. Well, I find it so, so I assume that others do, too. I know that doing everything with the class means that we will give phenomenal classes...bit it's too tiring. We need another way of working out what & how to teach.


The best way to learn how to teach


  • Ultimately it is through our own practice that we learn what works. 
  • How it works, & why it works. 
That, plus watching our students in a class, which teaches us: 

  • about skeletal shapes, 
  • what different proportions of bone structures can do, 
  • & also what is difficult for different types of bodies.
Our own practice is our teacher

And,  it is by gently resuming practice (sadhana) after injury or illness,


  • that we also learn what to do for students who have had injuries or physical difficulties, 
  • & how to adjust things to accommodate these. 
It is by only having a short amount of free time in which to practice, that we learn:

  • what really does work, 
  • for what circumstances, 
  • & why. 
  • What to emphasize. 
  • What is "icing on the cake".

I have always felt that telling students what to do in a class when you never practice yourself, is like telling your child to eat their greens when you don't. And I too have had periods when sadhana was just not happening. I would expect that all yoga teachers have "breaks" also. 

Even just a small practice, is ok


But, overall, our own sadhana is extremely important. If you can only manage 1 round of surya namaskara (sun salute) each morning, & the bridge pose, or 1/2 shoulderstand & a 5 minute "meditation" at night....so be it!


You will end up wanting to add a bit more. Simply because it will all make you feel so much better than how you usually feel. 


And, if you have time & are teaching a lot.....make yourself a 20 minute yoga nidra tape, on your phone, & aim to do it every day if possible, to keep your energy levels up. Even if that is your main sadhana practice.


The easiest and best techniques

Another excellent thing to fit in as a yoga teacher, is to incorporate the yamas/observances & niyamas/codes of conduct. How can one possibly fit all that into an already crowded life? Simply by being a decent, honest person who aims to be kind. That will do it.


There is another practice that one can incorporate. This the practice of mouna, or silence. It means, on a simplified daily level:


  • of not wasting our speech. 
  • not doing unnecessary talking. 
This simple practice gives far more energy than one could imagine. When I take a lot of classes, I am so over the sound of my own voice! But that's not the real reason for mouna. Excessive talking is believed to dissipate our prana, our life-force. Any time that we can hold onto our prana, we are keeping our energy levels up. And this is the easiest way to do it.

2 December 2016

The Constant Yearning

A poem by the great Sufi poet & Master, Hafiz:


The Constant Yearning


We are 


Like lutes


Once held by God.


Being away from His warm body


Fully explains


This


Constant


Yearning




25 November 2016

Inspiration

                     Image result for yoga feeling good


It was time to remember why I loved yoga

I had been feeling a bit jaded for a while, as a yoga teacher & practitioner. So, with the help of a couple of friends, I looked back through my life, to see what was my original inspiration for practising & teaching yoga. To re-inspire me.

To be honest, when I stood at the doorway of my very 1st yoga class, way back in my past, I just simply knew that whatever yoga was, & I had no ideas about yoga, that I would be doing it for the rest of my life, & that it was part of my destiny.

So that wasn't an inspiration. But I had physical damage from an incident, & it just was not getting better, even after 3 years. So, I went to my very 1st yoga class, & when I got home, I practised, everyday, a couple of things, whether it was flexibilities, asanas, or pranayama, that I could remember from that class. And every week, I would add whatever else I could remember, in the order that I could remember them. I had a doctors appointment 6 weeks after my 1st class, & the damage had been reversed. My 1st experience of how powerful yoga was.

My first inspirations

I did a bit everyday, & I did it all because it made me feel good. This was my first inspiration, for me. That yoga simply made me feel this way. A couple of years later, I started teaching yoga, & that was such a big inspiration, knowing that the class would also make people feel good. All I did was teach exactly what I had been taught, exactly how I had been taught. I figured that if it made an ordinary person like me feel fantastic, then it would also make other people feel the same.

And I don't mean just feeling good physically. No, it's more than that. One feels more emotionally stable & the perception & focus are clearer. The mental chatter & stomach churning switches off. One becomes calmer. What a blessing.

Later that first year of learning yoga, I also learnt off Dr Swami Gitananda who did a humble tour of New Zealand. Specifically, I learnt how to do proper yoga breathing & a comprehensive system for it, plus for breathing problems. It was very precise, & transforming. I experienced, & was inspired by, the powerful effects of prana, & the breath. But this wasn't my biggest inspiration, for myself, nor as a teacher.

A big reason for remembering our inspiration

Swamiji was adamant that yoga was supposed to make us feel good, &, if it didn't, then you were doing the wrong yoga for you. This is such a wonderful inspiration to keep in mind: teach your students how to feel good via the practices of yoga.

I have spent quite a few years in a situation where the yoga that was being taught was extreme. In every way. We "powered up" with asana, pranayama, bandhas, meditations ..... even the yoga nidra was intense. A lot of people loved it, they liked this approach. I didn't. It created inflammation in me, & made my mind restless & anxious. It was totally against my values with my inspiration for teaching yoga.

I like the calm & sublime results, so even if I teach a very hard class (asanas, pranayama etc)...I also use the final poses & pranayama to slow down to induce quietness. It's a very good approach for a hard class. Then a short relaxation to take one even closer to one's essence. This will make anyone feel wonderful. And it means that I stay true to my original inspiration.


11 November 2016

developing physical strength



Dynamic, fast Sun Salutes

                                   
                                Image result for rishikesh surya namaskara


When I was doing a long period of intense yoga training, many years ago, we would do surya namaskara (salute to the sun), at least 6 days a week. No stretch & use-correct-posture type surya namaskara, it was just about getting it done.

We used dynamic surya namaskara with the deep lunge variation, (above) where you take one leg back into a lunge, & at the end of the moves, you are also bringing a leg forward into a deep lunge. This makes a 1/2 round. The lunges use the other leg for the next 1/2 of a round, so 2 namaskaras alternating legs for the lunges, are making one round.

An easy version is here, another here

And when you are doing 10, 27, 54 rounds each day, it's a real effort. Forget slow breathing, perfect form, etc. Just do it! Especially when 10 rounds, as described above, should only take us 10 minutes. I still prefer this way.

  • it creates an energy
  • is highly beneficial to our endocrine & nervous systems
  • & is quite aerobic
  • it made us all very supple, & surprisingly strong. 
Whole body tone

Any exercise similar to a squat, in this case it's the kneeling lunges, greatly improves overall muscle tone. And all those mountain poses/down dogs, give a lot of upper body strength.

There are lots of sun salute styles

It's not the only way to so surya namaskara, of course. I know a lot of people doing the Mysore style surya namaskaras A & B. 2-3 of each is a good early morning routine, & they are done more slowly. A nice little variation is by Mandy Ingber. Any salutes are hard to do at first, but Mandy does do a nice one.

Below is an easy version similar to the Mysore styleRelated image

Add a few poses

If you add a twist....any sort, whether dynamic or holding one, easy or harder, plus either the bridge pose, or 1/2 shoulderstand will round out an early morning practice.


4 November 2016

we need cOMmunity in our spiritual journey

                 

                   Image may contain: 2 people, night, fire, table and indoor


Friends and family on the spiritual path

Sometimes one can feel quite alone in their spiritual journey, & this is one of the reasons why community is so important. It's reassuring to have people who are traversing the same path as oneself, 
I personally have friends from many yoga systems, in particular the spiritual yoga systems. It's interesting & inspiring for me to hear of others stories of their spiritual journey, & I know that when we meet up, we are all instantly friends & family.

I also learn deep Maori spirituality & healing, & find that the same applies here. We come together, as spiritual whanau (whanau means family). We belong. And it's lovely, it really is.

People need people

So why do we need each other? We need guides, always. Someone who has travelled the path before us, who will give of their time & energy to help us on our path. Who inspires, who cares. And, as time goes on, we too need to share our knowledge, to "pass it on". I don't mean in the aspect of wanting to be a well-known teacher, no, not that. It definitely is that one has become a storehouse of knowledge & one is compelled to share it. There is an understanding that knowledge does not belong to oneself, nor to a group, nor to a path.

And, when we start our journey, & we go, for example, to a yoga class, the combined energy of that class mysteriously enables us to do the physical aspect of yoga with more ease. Then, when we lie down for relaxation, or do meditation, that same combined energy creates a vibration. This vibration becomes like a benchmark: we get to know that when we are in the class, that we can slip easily into the vibration of that energy: it takes us on a journey, it aids in transforming the neural pathways of body & especially the brain. These pathways have to do with beneficial neurotransmitters, or messengers, that create profound, feel good, vibrations, within us. The group energy is superlative for this.

Loneliness on the spiritual path

I noticed, through my own experience & through being a yoga teacher, then also a healer, that in any spiritual field, there is a long stage where one feels so alone. One is on a journey, & there is a human need to find others who understand that loneliness, & that yearning for spirituality. Finding others who also are seekers, helps deal with the feelings of isolation, & I can tell you that it is just a stage, it does pass. And a special bonus, is that when we practice on our own, the memory of the class vibration will kick in, & help us maintain the feel good factor that we achieved in class.

It doesn't matter what the path is. We do need each other. We need footsteps to follow in, & in time to create our own footsteps for other's benefits. The footsteps that we follow help us on the path, they inspire. The footprints that we leave are in gratitude for being able to walk the path that so many others have trod.

28 October 2016

abdominal breath flow yoga with intention

                      Image result for meditation

More abdominal breathing

As mentioned in my previous post, the abdominal breath can be done throughout all the postures. Doing this creates a meditative, relaxing class, where there is no need for cleansing breaths such as bhastrikas or kapalabhatis. It's like a flow of breath. A flow of the abdominal breath.


For advanced classes, just add something extra

And for an advanced class, the abdominal breath can be done with ujjayi, along with more difficult poses, if required.

Flowing style and abdominal breath

This type of flowing class works so well with flowing movements. For example, groups of two, three,  or more poses, in little series. The best known example being: plank or all fours, moving into chaturanga or knees chest chin to floor, or even lowering oneself gently to the floor,followed by sphinx, cobra, or updog, finishing with child or mountain/down dog.

Sun salutes can be done slowly, with the abdominal breath. Dancing warrior. Or even just a vinyasa flow class followed by some relaxing poses at the end, finishing with a few restorative poses.

And with breathing practices (pranayama)

You can also use the abdominal breath for Nadi Shodana (where one breathes into one nostril then out the opposite nostril, then back again), at the end of class pranayama. As a stand alone pranayama, nothing else needed.

Which leads to


Which quite naturally leads into meditation. Because this style of breathing in a class, or in home practice (sadhana), is also meditative within itself.

However, in an hour long class, which I think is quite an adequate length of time for moving with the breath, you might prefer to just do relaxation instead. Either way, moving with relaxed focus on the abdominal breath, throughout the postures section of a class, leads one very quickly into something like meditation or relaxation: one simply goes within, naturally.

Abdominal breath helps with setting an intention

Start the class by getting into the abdominal breath (see my previous post), adding "relax on the exhale" after a few breaths,  then gradually moving into adding pauses after a few more breaths. Then ujjayi, if it's being used. If you like to add intention, it really helps to have the mind peaceful. (forceful affirmations are counterproductive) So you could add it here, when the mind is too relaxed to come up with negative reactions to the intention.

What is intention? Some might call it sankalpa. Like a resolve, really. Ideally an intention is something that you are wanting to do in or with your life. In this case, we use it over and over, with the idea being that it will manifest in one's life. Sometimes it actually can be the wrong sankalpa. It's best that it is stated in positive words, with the underlying intention that it will come true. You will know that it is the wrong sankalpa if everything to do with it is, quite frankly, so difficult. It will be difficult in this case in the way that too many obstacles will arise, even in some cases, unpleasantness. If it's the correct sankalpa for you, then things will move effortlessly towards it. You will find yourself wanting to do whatever you need to do to make it a reality!

Sometimes a teacher will ask everyone to make an intention for that class, for themselves. Other times, an intention may be given by the teacher.

I am no longer too rigid about what is done for sankalpa, or intention, with a class. I know two excellent yoga teachers who do something different. One reads a virtues card before the class. A virtue can be courage, grace, kindness, etc. So it's a card with the virtue on it, plus the definition. One could get quite mystical and inspired here. Another friend has all sorts of cards such as Goddess cards, tarot, and other similar packs. Often her class arrives early and chooses a card with the intention that it is relevant to oneself. And some also choose from her lovely array of crystals to place on their mats throughout the class. Totally lovely.

If you really want to know if, and how this all works:

I recommend that all yoga teachers try out these sort of suggestions, such as abdominal breath throughout their own sadhana, intention, things similar to intention. Try it and see. So that you know for yourself the effects and also, how to teach these suggestions. You might like them, or, they might not be right for your classes. Either way, only teach what you know. It keeps one's integrity intact.






21 October 2016

breathing for stress relief

                   Related image

Continuing with The Breath


So we have been looking at ways to do The Complete Breath. here & here  And breathing to stimulate the inner fire here, plus breathing to cleanse the frontal lobes here.

Where to add The Complete Breath

I find it easier to get students to do complete breathing at the front of a class, or in the pranayama section at the end. And, it is easier to teach it as a stand-alone pranayama at the end of the class, prior to relaxation or meditation.

The Abdominal Breath

But sometimes I start with an easier breath, which people often call the abdominal breath. This quickly calms and brings the mind to one-pointedness. Then I encourage it through out the class. It's done similarly to the complete breath, but is also not at all like the complete breath! I started teaching in this way as I could see that people were not relaxed in a class. And were therefore straining and overheating. (Two of my bug-bears). Abdominal breathing calms our emotions. In this way, it also calms the ever-fluctuating mind. So, it's an absolute blessing. When the mind is calmed, the Higher Realms can be effortlessly reached.

     "behind the veil of stress is a beautiful silence"

How to do the abdominal breath
  • put one hand on your navel
  • on your next exhale, gently draw the navel back towards the spine. You could say "draw the abdomen back to the spine", if you prefer
  • release the abdomen to breathe in
  • continue for a few breaths
  • move into doing a tiny pause after each inhale and after  each exhale. The wee pauses are like the icing on a cake, they add the finishing touch to the abdominal breath, and take it to the next level. Surprisingly, this type of breathing gives longer endurance in a class.

Adding ujjayi

Doing the abdominal breath in this way, leads one easily into ujjayi. Ujjayi is sometimes called the Victory breath, the Psychic breath, the Whispering breath. I was taught decades ago, to use it for teaching for heart recovery, such a s strokes. Unfortunately, over the decades I have noticed that it was being taught quite strenuously. I was originally taught to constrict the glottis as I breathed in and out, to make a soft noise> Doing it this way did seem to encourage some people to be very loud with it. It isn't supposed to be about loudness.  And with the glottis constriction, some people would tense their jaw. This is counterproductive to stress release.

Swami Janakananda stayed with me once, and proclaimed that ujjayi was being incorrectly taught in Australia & New Zealand.

These days I teach it in a more sublime way:

Using the abdominal breath, with the tiny pauses, open your mouth as you exhale, quietly saying "ha-a-a-a". Inhale through the mouth. Do this a few times. Then add: "a-a-a-h" with the mouth open, for the inhale. The sound being made is very soft, & the breath sort of skims backwards/inhaling, & forwards/exhaling, along the upper palette. Try it, ujjayi this way is beautiful: instant happiness! There is a gentle stimulation also to Lalana chakra, in the upper throat.

Abdominal breath and meditation

The abdominal breath is a stand alone breath which can take you very easily into meditation....just keep doing it, & for meditation, add the mantra, or sounds, of  so/inhale; ham/exhale. Ham sounds like "hum". Do it for a few minutes.

You can also add ujjayi to this, making it even more relaxing & profound.








19 October 2016

why breathe in this way? & a correction

                                  Image result for lungs

But first, a correction

Following on from my previous post here, I said that the lungs don't actually go up to the shoulders, which was not what I meant! They don't go all the way up to underneath the collarbones is what it should have read. And the top tips of the lungs, they go up in a beautiful arc to peak just slightly out to the sides, towards the shoulders. These arcs are quite little, & frequently overlooked. But as part of the lungs, they should be included. If you put the palms, fingers pointing in, just under the collarbones, & breathe in & out in this position, you will be influencing those lung tips.

Why do the complete breath? 

  • it reduces inflammation, by cooling the body. So anyone who overheats for any reason, will find it effective
  • it gets more oxygen to the brain, & for those who have never experienced the complete breath properly, it will be interesting. Suddenly, the brain lights up! 
  • we feel great, &, as oxygen is one of the key components that our brain needs, we feel fantastic
  • we get less tired. Often tiredness can be traced back to our brains needing more oxygen
  • our overall health improves, as we get improved nerve function, via the lungs & the brain

And the channelled technique mentioned, is actually for the same, but also different, reasons. The different reason are this: 

  • breathing into the lower lobes of the lungs, expanding in all directions, causes the abdominals to move even more, as well
  • so first we learn to expand the lower lungs in this way. A lot of the work of the lungs is supposed to be done deep in the lungs
  • then the breath continues, naturally & effortlessly, in that expansive manner, in an upwards motion, as though travelling up a big tube.  The breathing capacity will naturally increase
  • exhale as though the lungs are emptying from top to base, gently drawing the abdominals back towards the spine, as you do so
  • release the abdominals to start the next breath.

To do all this, causes the breath to slow down, which settles our emotions & therefore correspondingly settles our restless minds. An absolute bonus. As well, the breath helps reduce inflammation, & working the abdominals also encourages digestion & bowel function.

Once you can do the complete breath in this way, the next step is ujjayi. Soft ujjayi, & this will help open up hridayakasha, the non-physical space of the heart chakra/anahata.

The outwards tubular effect of the lower lungs, & gently drawing back of the abdomen & the navel, especially with ujjayi, works on the pranamaya kosha: the body sheath of our life - force, our prana. When the pranamaya kosha awakens, our kundalini energy can be released upwards. This is not necessarily Mother Kundalini snake, the entity of kundalini. I am talking about the trapped energy of kundalini here. Our pranic energy also "lifts up" as we take our breath up. The natural movement of energy is upwards. Earthbound energy likes to move up.