Our breath represents life and is the basic movement pattern that enables us to exist and experience. Just as breathing is our most primal, natural movement pattern, so is dysfunctional breathing our most significant aberrant movement pattern. Our primary muscle of respiration, the thoracic diaphragm, is central to our functional core. Its ability to move freely has far reaching consequences on our health from posture, to movement, to spinal stability and visceral function as well as mental health and wellbeing.
In Part 1 of this article I will explain the importance of extending ones inversions, headstand and shoulder stand. I will show how for meditation to succeed what yogis call prana or amrita (nectar) needs to be accumulated or preserved. The process to do so is called pratyahara, the fifth limb of yoga. There are three main approaches to pratyahara, i.e. Patanjali’s mental approach, Rishi Yajnavalkya’s pranic approach and Siddha Gorakhnath’s physical approach. In my own practice I found out that for swift success it is best to combine all three. Part 2 of the article will explain the practical aspects of extending inversions.
Most of us are familiar with the importance of our thoracic diaphragm muscle and our pelvic diaphragm or pelvic floor muscles. Both of these are recognised for their importance both as respiratory muscles and their crucial role in core stability.
Imagine how great it would be to have a switch that, when operated, would enable you to consciously choose between your right and left brain hemispheres, intuitive and analytical intelligence, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, fight/flight reflex and rest/relaxation, and between the male and female, solar and lunar, aspects of your psyche. How great it would be if, when required, you could switch from being compassionate to doggedly determined. Or from charged with energy to completely relaxed within a few minutes. Or from extrovert (physically present, expressive and outgoing) to introvert (reflective and absorbing) within a short time. This switch does in fact exist and it is not at all hidden. It is the prominently protruding olfactory orifice right in the middle of your face: your nose. […]
After my last article “Researching Pranayama” I was asked to expand more on the idea of Prana, what a ‘rejecter of prana’ is, whether people can be ‘deficient’ in Prana, and how it can be stronger in some people than in others? What are some of the most beneficial ways to improve our pranic body and where do pranayama, meditation, asana and diet come into play? Do thoughts or mind patterns affect our pranic body? […]
I have recently been approached by the new Center for Consciousness Science, which is part of the University of Michigan’s Medical School, in regards to advise for their project on brain and psychological dynamics associated with yogic breathing (pranayama) techniques. Apart from answering their questions I also pointed out that one of their main challenge would be to eliminate negative circumstances that influence the performance of pranayama (i.e. to enable your practitioners to perform repeatable sets of data.) Some of these are: […]
I was asked to comment on the statement, ‘All misalignment comes from incorrect breathing ‘. A teacher said this to one of my students when they explained that they had a postural imbalance. The teacher was insinuating further that if the student would get adjusted “with breath” as in opposed to “without breath” misalignments would sort themselves out.