Sunday, 11 November 2012

Can anyone really talk about breathing for three hours?  Yes.  Cameron Gilley can talk about breathing for three hours. Cam could probably talk about breathing for six hours if given the chance.  Me?  I think three hours is a bit excessive, particularly as I can barely breathe right now, so quite a few exercises in our Pranayama workshop with Cam were a bit much for me.  Having said that, it’s really interesting stuff.  Cam normally takes our philosophy classes on a Wednesday night, but he really knows his s**t when it comes to breathing. 

Pranayama is one of the eight limbs of the Yoga Sutras.  It’s the practice of controlling your breathe in order to move your energy towards enlightenment.  The idea is that when we control our breathing, we begin to gain control of our mind.  This could be SERIOUSLY beneficial for me, considering how little control I have over my mind.  Even throughout this workshop, I was struggling to focus, and I know it’s not just because I have a head cold.  There’s one woman in my YTT group who is a LOUD breather.  And when I say loud, I mean it sounds like she’s giving birth.  It’s like a scene from She’s Having a Baby.  She’s a lovely woman and I have nothing to say against her except that I cannot be near her during class because I have the attention span of a gnat I will always, without a doubt, be distracted by her breathing.  During the Pranayama workshop, I could hear her for the entire three hours and just couldn’t block it out.

My tiny, easily distracted brain aside….

Over the three hours we covered;
  • ·         Ujjayi – Victorious or Ocean breath; the breath we use in practice, where you restrict your airway to extend your inhale/exhale and build heat in your body
  • ·         Dirgha – Complete Yogic breath; various stages of breathing and holding your breath for a count
  • ·         Heart Opening breaths, including Fountain Breath and Breath of Joy; standing exercises including physical movements
  • ·         Viloma – Interrupted Breath; pausing repeatedly during your inhale/exhale
  • ·         Lion’s Breath; sticking your tongue out to your chin, bugging your eyes and roaring like a fun-loving idiot.  Best Lion’s Breath picture ever is Iyengar demonstrating -

We also covered Bandhas, the energy transformers in our body, and how they connect to Pranayama.  Bandhas are basically the seals or locks used to control energy flow in our body and there are three; Moola Bandha (the root lock), Uddiyana Bandha (the abdominal lock), and Jalandhara Bandha (the throat/chest lock).  We did some breathing exercises incorporating the Bandha’s including;
  • ·         Anuloma – Breath with the Grain; prolonged inhalation and exhalation with Bandhas engaged
  • ·         Bhastrika - Bellows Breath; engaging Uddiyana Bandha as your exhale, making the inhale reflexive
  • ·         Surya Bhedana; Breath Through the Sun; which involved circular breathing, blocking off one nostril at a time, which was IMPOSSIBLE for me.  
I searched for some good Pranayama videos on youtube, but they all seemed to be incredibly boring… Clearly we need to talk to Cam about filming something more interesting, so I can keep practicing, when I don't have my head buried in a sea of tissues. 

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