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Losing Ourselves/ Finding Ourselves: Ujjayi

The main type of breathing in yoga is the ujjayi breath (ooh-JAI-yee.) We will learn or review the technique this week. Quite often I will be approached by students who ask specific questions and want to "breathe right" in their practice. The best practice is just to coordinate movements in the practice with breathing. It can be that simple. However, the depth of self-discovery and self-reflection that the breath can bring to our practice can be limitless and powerful. The breath is our best teacher in our practice. Erich Schiffman states in Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness ( Pocket Books Publishing, 1996,

"There is always a space or gap between what the mind says it wants to be doing and what the body actually does. In this gap between intention and execution, between the 'ought' and the 'is,' there is always a loss of energy. In yoga this separation comes to an end when you allow the breath to replace the thinking mind as the guiding impulse behind movement and stretch. This involves merging so thoroughly with the breath that you are not thinking about anything else. This moment, this breath, this now, is all-important. You immerse yourself so totally that the usual separation between you and the pose dissolves."

In vinyasa style of yoga classes, students coordinate movement with breath to flow from one pose to the next. The practice builds from one pose to another, repeating and building over and over, making it easier to focus on the flow and breath. What a perfect way to celebrate freedom this week as we learn to soar on our breath!

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