Pranayama Hints & tips

While Pranayama Standing Deep Breathing isn’t strictly considered a posture it is an integral component to the Hot Bikram Yoga series. Don’t be fooled that it is ‘just’ a breathing exercise, it is as important as every posture that follows.

Pranayama sets you up for the rest of your class and as we know;

correct alignment is key to everything we do in the hot room.

The average lung capacity of an adult is around 6 litres, yet, in daily life we very rarely utilise this and mostly shallow breathe, using only the top third of our lungs. Shallow breathing means that stagnant air and pollutants can sit culminating at the bottom of our lungs. This can lead to fatigue, respiratory sluggishness and diminished tissue function. So lets get deep breathing…

Stand with your feet together, pointed directly at the mirror,
weight evenly disrupted throughout the feet.
Engage the muscles in your legs, buttocks and stomach, standing straight.
To engage your thighs and buttocks: squeeze your glutes together, then imagine you are pulling your knee caps up and squeeze your thighs together. At the same time engaging your core by concentrating on your abdomen. Feel like you are pulling your bellybutton inwards, toward your spine and drawing up from your pelvic floor (imagining you wish to stop yourself from going to the toilet!).

bikram-yoga_17-8-2012_016Palms together, interlace your fingers and thumbs, placing your knuckles under your chin. If possible arms together up to the elbows. However, if when doing this your back rounds and your shoulders come forward, open you arms enough to prevent this from happening. Shoulders drawn down and your back straight through the exercise. Keep the knuckle to chin connection throughout the entire exercise.

Keeping your mouth closed, inhale deeply through your nose using your throat to pull the air in. This will make a gentle snoring sound at the back of your throat.
Breathe in slowly and steadily for 6 counts, filling your lungs to capacity.
As you gently fill your lungs, slowly raise your elbows directly up, creating an arc in the air.

The goal is to eventually be able to raise your elbows up until your forearms touch with your ears. This can take weeks or years depending on your flexibility. Don’t be disheartened if you cannot reach this final position, as long as you go to your personal edge you are getting maximum benefit from the exercise.
Your chin should stay rested into the ‘u’ of your hands through the 6 counts.

bikram-yoga_17-8-2012_017Immediately and in a fluid movement as soon as the 6 inhale counts have been reached, open your mouth a little and push the air out of your body slowly and steadily, making a hhhhhhhhaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh sound as the air escapes.  It should resonate from your throat and make an ocean- esq. sound as it is being released.
Like you are trying to fog up a mirror.

Simultaneously, while you are exhaling for 6 counts, drop your head backwards, knuckles glued to the chin and bring your palms, wrist, forearms, and elbows together. Your elbows, wrists, arms and upturned face will form one parallel line to the ceiling.

Empty every last drop of air from your lungs and repeat roughly another 10 times, however this is really up to your teacher d’jore.

Remember keep your eyes open during the entire exercise.

When your arms are moving upwards your whole torso will stretch pulling on your abdomen and stretching it.  As well as focusing on the core think of creating more space in your chest, ribs and lungs, while consciously keeping your shoulders down. The exhales again focuses back on engaging the core. Keep your legs and buttocks engaged

throughout.

Pranayama Standing Deep Breathing, will not only energise you and set you up for class, it will clear out all that old stale air and replace it with fresh oxygen, that is then zinged around your body to all the organs and muscles getting them ready and lively for class.  This breathing will also help to clear and focus your mind.

If you have any questions or injuries please speak with your teacher before class.

PRANAYAMA
Standing Deep Breathing

Benefits:

Good for lungs and respiratory system.
Helps with mental relaxation.
Helps high blood pressure.
Relieves irritability.
Good for detoxification.
Exercises nervous, respiratory and circulatory systems.

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