28 October 2016
abdominal breath flow yoga with intention
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.