Friday, December 23, 2011


This can be a very busy time of year for most people. Christmas shopping, holiday parties, decorating the house, traveling, visiting relatives, and the list goes on. There's hardly any time to sit and rest. But since it IS the giving season, why don't you give yourself the gift of least for a few minutes!

Just taking a few moments for yourself, especially during the next few days, will be very beneficial to you. It may just be the quick relaxing moment you need to get through the holidays.

We will practice Ujjayi Breath. It is the breath that we typically use while practicing yoga. When translated directly, Ujjayi means "victorious," but I often add to the definition "vibrant" and "uplifting." This certainly should be an uplifting time of year, so why not practice this way of breathing as a way to relax AND rejuvenate.

Start by sitting comfortably on your yoga mat. Close your eyes and just take a few deep breaths to settle into this moment. I will describe one way you can practice Ujjayi Breathing.

Imagine for a moment that your breath "lives" in your belly. With the uplifting, vibrant, and victorious breath, you will move that breath upward into your chest, lungs, and heart center. The action of Ujjayi breathing is developed by gently constricting the throat slightly to create some resistance to the passage of air. Try your mouth a bit and "pull" in breath through your mouth. You might feel a cool air hit the back of your throat. Now breathe out as if you were fogging a mirror. This air may feel warm as it leaves your mouth. Keep doing this for a few more breaths. You will notice that light constriction of the throat as you breathe in and out. Now, try breathing in the same fashion, but with your mouth closed. This is Ujjayi Breathing. The sound you make is often called the Ujjayi Sound. It may resemble the sound of an ocean wave.

Now that you have engaged this style of breathing, use this method to move breath from your belly up to your chest. You will find that breathing this way allows you to take slower, longer, and deeper breaths. As you inhale, feel the breath leave your belly and rise up to fill your lungs. Hold onto this uplifting sensation by engaging your Abdominal Lock (Uddiyana Bandha, oo-dee-YAH-nah BAHN-dah). This will engage your abdominal muscles so the breath doesn't "fall back down" into your belly. Keep breathing this way: filling your heart space with this vibrant and victorious breath. Feel it's warmth and energy move through you. Take at least 20 breaths or just sit for a few minutes (3-5 minutes) practicing this yogic breath. Notice how you feel when you are done.

You can do Ujjayi Breath ANYTIME, really! You don't have to do it just when you're practicing yoga. Do it while driving, or shopping, or cooking (but keep your eyes open!) It's healing, calming, relaxing AND energizing, motivating, and inspiring. Sounds like Christmas to me.


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