The following practices form part of my core teaching themes. It is at the request of some of my regular students that I outline some of the important and regularly used practices. This is so they can be remembered and referenced more easily.
This page is incomplete at the moment, but forms the starting point to add more information about the following as and when I get time; Uddiana Bhanda, Kechari Mudra and some principles such as Ahimsa, satya etc.
Please be mindful that some information on this page comes from the book Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha. The rest comes from my experience and the teachers who have taught me.
“Those who are enamoured of practice without theory are like a pilot who goes into a ship without rudder or compass and never has any certainty where he is going. Practice should always be based upon a sound knowledge of theory.”
(Leonardo da Vinci)
Pranayama: Ujjayi (Victorious Breath)
One of simplest and most important breathing practices. Ujjayi is pronounced ooh jy eee, where eee sounds like tree and jy sounds like try but starting with a j sound. Ujjayi means to conquer.
This practice can be performed on it’s own, or can be used in combination. It is commonly combined with Kechari Mudra, but can also be used with asanas (postures) and in some cases Uddiana Bandha can be applied with it. It also used with other practices such as the meditation practice Japa Ajapa.
Ujjayi can be used as a preperation for Nadhi Shodhana or as a practice in its own right.
Pranayama: Nadi Shodana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
This is the first breathing practice listed in the the yoga texts Prana & Pranayama (page 223). It helps to balance energy in the body, without getting too much into details, it essentially balances the active and passive energy as would be understood by the sympathatic and parasympathetic nervous systems. It is pronounced; nar dee show dar nah. It is a cleansing and balancing breath.
There are many stages but like all pranayama practices, slow and steady progress is essential. Therefore it’s important not to strain and progress at a safe and steady rate. Nadhi Shodana is an excellent pranayama to use as part of a daily practice weather it’s peformed with the open/close nostrils or as anuloma viloma (awareness of individual nostrils) such as if your nostrils were blocked.
Both Ujjayi and Nadhi Shodana are suitable before going to bed and an excellent preparation for meditation and/or relaxation (inc. yoga nidra).
Pranayama: Kapalbhati (Bellows Breath)
Kapalbhati purifies Ida/Pingala, helps cleanse the lungs and removes sensory distractions from the mind. I find it also helps clear the nostrils. Once the mechanics and rythm of the practice has been learn’t and become familier, it can preceed and benefit the practice of Nadi Shodhana.
Benefits and other considerations according to Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha are as follows. This practice is good for asthmatics and people with emphysema, bronchitis and tuberculosis. It helps to balance and strengthen the nervous system and tones the digestive organs. It is contra-indicated for; heart disease, unmedicated high blood pressure, vertigo, epilepsy, stroke, hernia and gastric ulcer.
Meditation: Antar Mouna (Inner Silence)
This meditation practice is complete. It’s a practice that has several stages. Each stage needs to be mastered before adding subsequent stages. In this way it’s suitable for the beginner and for the advanced practitioner and those in-between. It’s structured in a progressive way from simple to advanced. All forms of meditation require sustained practice to be truly effective. You must work through the difficult periods of meditation as you do the easy periods. Meditation is very subtle in that it might take you a while to realise and perceive the benefits. This is why you will only know its worth doing by seeing the effectiveness in your own life, but you have to try it long enough with genuine interest for the benefits to become obvious. Almost a catch 22 situation.
I teach this in class as a meditation practice, but when I do students have the option treat it as a relaxation (laying down) or meditation (sitting). Sometimes I include aspects of it in relaxation. Although in some ways meditation is a relaxation practice.
There is a very good description of the practice at www.yogamag.net (Antar Mouna).