While in Bali I have been taking the opportunity to catch up with some of the teachers that can give us insights into the Ashtanga practice. In this interview I talk to Iain Grysak about the breath. We all know that we should use an Ujjayi breath throughout the practice but are you truly connecting with it, and using it to it’s full potential? We discuss the common areas in which problems can occur and Iain even gives a short breathing exercise designed to connect more subtly with the breath.
When we decide to move our body, in asana practice or in daily life, we most often instantly begin with activating our muscles. We identify movement with activating various muscles. The muscles are the physical system that we mostly rely on to carry out any physical task at hand. So is it in asana practice too. Unfortunately our muscular system is of relative efficiency in complex movement tasks such as asana practice.
Recently, when I was in California I spent an evening practicing holotropic breathwork. I didn’t know much about this beforehand, and you might not either, so I’ll just set the scene. There were about 20 or so of us in a circle, along with a facilitator (whose instructions generally only increased my mystification). After a rambling introduction, he switched on some music, and we divided into pairs.
Doing an Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga practice involves much more than merely doing the asanas enumerated in the Primary Series. As a sequence, the primary series is the foundation of the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga practice. It plants the seeds that will grow into the other sequences. But it’s not limited to the asana element. The seeds that should be planted are also the more subtle components.
The diaphragm is the main muscle involved in breathing; when you get an experiential feeling of its actions, that knowledge helps you breathe better and thus helps you develop your yoga practice. You can learn to sense the diaphragms anatomical location within the torso and to follow its contraction (inhalation) and relaxation (exhalation) phases.