Pranayama (Breath Control)~
Pranayama is the formal practice of controlling the breath, which is the source of our prana, or vital life force'.
The word Prana means 'vital energy' or 'life force'
Ayama is defined as expansion
Thus the word Pranayama means expansion of the dimension of Prana.
Four Aspects of Pranayama:
1. Puraka or Inhalation
2. Rechaka or Exhalation
3. Antar Kumbhaka or Retention after Inhalation
4. Bahir Kumbhaka or Retention after Exhalation
Most people breathe incorrectly, using only a small part of their lung capacity. The breathing is then generally shallow, depriving the body of oxygen and prana essential to its good health.
In Pranayama practices more emphasis is given to inhalation and exhalation at the beginning, in order to strengthen the lungs and balance the nervous and pranic systems in preparation for the practice of retention.
There are many Pranayama techniques, however in Yoga we usually begin with
Abdominal or Diaphragmatic Breathing
Yoga terminology and Facts~
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The Moral of the Story...
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The term yoga comes from a Sanskrit word which means yoke or union, as in joining
mind, body, breath, and spirit together. On the physical level, yoga postures, called asanas, are designed to tone, strengthen, and align the body. These postures are performed to make the spine supple and healthy and to promote blood flow to all the organs, glands, and tissues, keeping all the bodily systems healthy. On the mental level, yoga uses breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation (dyana) to quiet, clarify, and discipline the mind.
Styles of Yoga~
Talk about confusing, it seems there are almost as many styles of yoga as people practicing it
The term Hatha Yoga refers to the actual physical practice of yoga, which encompasses most of the styles.
You may have to do some research on the many different styles of yoga to determine which one may be a good fit for you, try out many different styles and teachers until you find one (or several) that speak to you.
How often should I practice?
Overall, practicing 3 times per week is ideal but remember: a little bit of yoga every day is better than a lot of yoga once or twice per week. If all you can do is 15 minutes per day, do that. Yoga does not break down the muscle fibers like weightlifting, it’s not likely to fatigue the muscles like running, or other more strenuous sports. Whatever you choose you will see the benefits of a regular yoga practice.
In Sanskrit the word is namah + te = namaste which means “I bow to you”. Namaste is one of the various forms of formal traditional greeting mentioned in the Vedas. This refers to paying homage or showing respect to one another, as is the practice today, when we greet each other.
Om or Aum~
Om is not a word but rather an intonation, which transcends the barriers of age, race, and culture. It is made up of three Sanskrit letters, aa, au and ma which, when combined together, make the sound Aum or Om. It is believed to be the basic sound of the world and to contains all other sounds. It is a mantra or prayer in itself. If repeated with the correct intonation, it can resonate throughout the body so that the sound penetrates to the center of one's being. Om represents the past, the present, and the future.
Savasana (corpse pose)~
This is the final resting pose in just about any style yoga class. This final pose is where you lie on your back with your eyes closed and body relaxed. Savasana allows the body to rest and assimilate the changes made during the practice. Savasana also serves the point of ritual, as it gives teachers the opportunity to guide students in relaxation, affirmation, and an overall sense of peace. It allows the individual practitioner to give ceremony and sacredness to their practice and to feel peace that so often results from our efforts in yoga.
Chakra~ The Sanskrit word Chakra literally translates to wheel. and refers to wheels of energy throughout the body. There are seven main chakras starting from the base of the spine through to the crown of the head. To visualize a chakra in the body, imagine a swirling wheel of energy where matter and consciousness meet.
Bandha~ Bandha means to lock, close-off, to stop. In the practice of a Bandha, the energy flowing to a particular area of the body is blocked. When the Bandha is released, this causes the energy to flood more strongly through the body with an increased pressure.
There are four main types of Bandha's-
Mula Bandha- Root Lock
Uddiyana Bandha- Abdominal lock
Jalandhara Bandah- Chin Lock
Maha Bandha- all three at the same time.