“He loved her without desperation and needs and wants. With his naked soul, he loved her, and dream of her clothed in white dancing beneath the moonlight as the stars grew jealous of the way she moved.” ॐ heart emoticon
“Something strange and beautiful Is happening inside of me I can hear the thoughts of the birds I can hear the songs of the trees I can feel the heartbeat of the beasts I can live in each moment like it’s My very last feast I am one with the Moon I am one with the Sea Today I touched everything in the world Like it was my lover I touched everything that way Including me…..” ॐ heart emoticon
“The psyches and Souls of women have their own cycles and seasons of doing and solitude, running and staying, being involved and being removed, questing and resting, creating and incubating, being of the world and returning to the soul-place…”
“In order to converse with the Wild feminine, a woman must temporarily leave the world and inhabit a state of aloneness in the oldest sense of the word. Long ago the word alone was treated as two words, all one. To be all one, meant to be wholly one, to be in oneness, either essentially or temporarily. That is precisely the goal of solitude, to be all one. It is the cure for the frazzled state so common to modern women…”
“Women from Ancient times as well as modern aboriginal women set a Sacred place aside for this communion and inquiry. Traditionally, it is said to have been set aside during women’s menses, for during that time woman lives much closer to self-knowing than usual; the membrane between the unconscious and the conscious minds thins considerably. Feelings memories, sensations that are normally blocked from consciousness pass over into cognizance without resistance. when a woman takes solitude during this time, she has more material to sift through.”
“However in my exchanges with tribal women from North, Central and South America, as well as female progeny of some of the Slavic tribes, I find that ‘women places’ were used anytime, not just during menses, and more so, that each woman often had her own ‘woman place’, consisting of a certain tree, place at the water’s edge, or some natural forest or desert room or ocean cave.”
“Much of modern woman’s premenstrual crankiness is not just a physical syndrome but it equally attributable to her being thwarted in her need to take enough time away to revivify and renew herself.”
“I always laugh when I hear someone quoting early anthropologists who claimed that menstruating women of various tribes were considered ‘unclean’ and forced to leave the village until they were ‘over it.’ All women know that even if there were such a forced exile ritual, every single woman, to a woman, would, when her time came, leave the village hanging her head mournfully, at least till she was out of sight, and then suddenly break into a jig down the path, cackling all the way.” ॐ heart emoticon
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies. I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size But when I start to tell them, They think I’m telling lies. I say, It’s in the reach of my arms, The span of my hips, The stride of my step, The curl of my lips. I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That’s me.
I walk into a room Just as cool as you please, And to a man, The fellows stand or Fall down on their knees. Then they swarm around me, A hive of honey bees. I say, It’s the fire in my eyes, And the flash of my teeth, The swing in my waist, And the joy in my feet. I’m a woman Phenomenally. ॐ heart emoticon
"Tao has its own Tantra. The first thing: Tao never divides into the lower and the higher, that is the beauty of it. The moment you divide reality into the lower and the higher you are getting schizophrenic. The moment you say something is sacred and something is profane you have divided. The moment you say something is material and something is spiritual you have divided, you have split reality. Reality is one. There is neither matter nor spirit. Reality is one. It expresses itself in many forms: on one level as matter, on another level as spiritual. The spiritual is not higher and the material is not lower – they stand on the same level. That is the Taoist attitude. Life is one. Existence is one. It is a tremendous oneness and there is no evaluation.
"The first thing in Tao is to drop duality. Sex is not lower and samadhi is not higher. Samadhi and sex are both expressions of the same energy. There is nothing laudable about samadhi and there is nothing condemnable about sex. The Tao acceptance is total, absolute. There is nothing wrong about the body and there is nothing beautiful about the spirit – they are both beautiful. Devil and God are one in Tao, heaven and hell are one in Tao, good and bad are one in Tao – it is the greatest non-dual understanding. There is no condemnation and no preparation. To prepare for what? One has simply to relax and be." ॐ
She is the calm in the wind the fluidity of water the destruction of fire She is the kind of woman you desire but she never stays where she isn't worshiped… her mind is forever in motion a vortex you risk getting lost in she is of her own world she is hers… With words that cut deep she keeps honey on her tongue when spilling the tea from her lips, she walks with the moon in between her hips her curves and fine lines are her finest art… and her heart is room temperature as she is adaptable but never conforms… This is the kind of woman you only get a piece of before she leaves with her soul still intangibly engulfed in yours She is magic. ॐ heart emoticon
Each breath in is a new chance to let Life flow through you, to let go of resistance to the moment, to cultivate compassion for yourself and others.
As the SNL character Stuart Smalley affirms, “You are good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.”
Each breath is a new chance to practice loving kindness, trusting the universe, service to the Earth and all its inhabitants.
The importance of the breath, in yoga and in life, cannot be overstated.
These five basic breath exercises are guaranteed to give you a nice, natural yoga buzz.
1. Alternate Nostril Breath
My absolute favorite form of pranayama (breath control) is Alternate Nostril Breathing. It’s simple to do and in just a few moments can completely calm and balance the monkey mind.
Alternate Nostril Breathing is traditionally done in a seated, cross-legged meditation posture, though it’s fine to sit in a chair if you’re not comfortable on the floor. In either case, sit up with a tall spine and relaxed face and shoulders.
The mudra (hand position) is done with the right hand. Fold the index finger and middle finger down to touch the palm. Begin with the thumb lightly closing your right nostril. Inhale through the left nostril, to the count of four, six or eight. Hold the breath in for four, six or eight seconds. Then, lightly close your left nostril with your ring finger and release the thumb from your right nostril. Exhale through the right side. Inhale again through the right side. Retain the breath here in the middle only if you feel comfortable doing so. Exhale through the left.
That is one cycle.
To summarize: inhale left, exhale right, inhale right, exhale left. Optionally retain the inbreath in and the outbreath out. Continue for five cycles or more. You can work up to doing this breath exercise for five or more minutes at a time.
Alternate Nostril Breathing works like a charm to clear and calm the mind. It’s a terrific technique to incorporate at the beginning and/or end of your yoga session.
2. Bumblebee Breath
Use your fingertips to lightly cover your closed eyelids. Using your thumbs, close your ears. Inhale deeply through the nose and as you exhale, let out a long, low humming sound. With the eyes and ears closed, the hum will reverberate in your head and sound like a buzzing bee. Repeat three, four, or more times.
As you do this breath exercise, bring your inner gaze to the third eye, the point between your eyebrows. The Bumblebee Breath is purported to calm the mind and inspire new creative ideas.
Next time you are feeling overstimulated or uninspired, give it a shot.
3. Dog Breath (a.k.a. Breath of Fire)
You need to get in touch with your inner child for this one. (It’s great for kids yoga, as is Bumblebee Breath.) For Dog Breath, pant like a dog, first through the open mouth. Then, close your mouth and continue the panting breath through the nose. Do two sets of thirty seconds each, pausing between the sets and taking deep breaths. This technique brings oxygen to the brain and help you wake up and feel more alert.
4. Ocean Breath
“You and I are all as much continuous with the physical universe as a wave is continuous with the ocean.”
~ Alan Watts
Ocean breath is super simple and calming yet energizing. Take deep, slow, long, active inhales and let the exhale out naturally and passively. Close your eyes and notice how this creates a sound like the waves in the ocean.
5. Just Sit
“There is no success or failure, no great place you are going. You are “just sitting.” To wander, to obsess, to lust—you get a flavor of the mind, a direct meeting. Without acting on any of the thoughts, you get to see how they rise up and—if you’re lucky–pass away. Sometimes we get stuck. You get to observe the nature of being stuck.”
~ Natalie Goldberg
Simple breath awareness is an excellent meditation technique. As you breathe consciously through the nose, recall that this magnificent function has been with you since the moment of your birth and will be with you until your final exhale of this precious life.
What is Prana, Pranayama and why is it relevant to meditation?
Prana is an energetic force that exists within all beings and things. Yama means to restrain and Ayama means to extend, lengthen; thus Pranayama practices works with extension and restraining of one’s energetic force.
Some might say that breath is prana, but that is not quite accurate. Prana denotes constancy, a force in constant motion, energy that drives action. The kind of energy that burst forth to manifest the Universe and human beings. Science might describe prana as multidimensional energy: a combination of electrical, magnetic, electromagnetic, photonic, ocular, thermal and mental energies.
Prana travels along energy meridians in the body. It is said that there are 72,000 nadis, energy pathways, in the body. The main energy channels, or ‘Nadis,’ are the Ida (lunar) channel, the Pingala (solar) channel and the Sushumna Nadi, the main energy meridian that travels from the base of the spine up and out through the crown of the head. The Ida and Pingala criss-cross along the Sushumna Nadi, at seven different points, denoting a convergence, resulting in a chakra, or energy wheel. One can remove blockages associated with each chakra with the help of pranayama practice.
Breath techniques can help to increase or ‘restrain’ the quanta of prana. It also aids in channeling and directing that energy in our bodies using inhalation, exhalation and retention. In order to help a practitioner withdraw from one’s senses (pratyahara) and concentrate (dharana), pranayama techniques are vital to one’s progress in attaining inward meditative states.
Pranayama practices have been known for over 4000 years, but detailed practices primarily appear in writing the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Gheranda Samhita and Hatharatnavali, between the 5th and 6th centuries. There are many practices identified which could easily overwhelm and confuse.
A good starting point in working with breath techniques is to build a foundation utilizing first, an attention to breath. We take approximately 21, 600 breaths per day, or 900 per hour, although many of us are not even aware of this involuntary process.
A simple, and sometimes not-so-simple, technique might be to become aware of the breath at the nostril tips, ribs, or belly during inhalation and exhalation, with pointed concentration of nothing but breath awareness for 5-10 minutes. Unconscious breathing is controlled by medulla oblongata and conscious breathing is controlled by more evolved areas of the brain, at the cerebral cortex. To bring awareness to this process, transforms the involuntary to voluntary as well as from static to evolutionary. This transformation alone generally has an effect of calming one’s nervous system, reacting on the sympathetic nervous system.
Short, shallow or sharp breathing indicates an active, anxious or depressed mind, whereas long, deep breaths indicate a calm mind and attitude. During these receptive, relaxed states of being, without thought, is when the magic begins to happen.
Along with breath techniques, many yogis also practice with engaging bandhas (energetic locks), working with the koshas (energy sheaths) and/or chakras (energy vortices).
Yogis believe that the brain and its corresponding nervous system is controlled by the chakras and the nadis. If there is a blockage, then mental and physical stability decreases, and meditation is blocked as well.
Once you begin to understand that you can control your own beliefs and reactions, by reconditioning your mind, you will see how you are able to thereby, control your reality. Consciousness inward translates into consciousness outward. Moreover, stillness inward, in deep meditative states, connects you to the Divine, and with it a divine sense of ease and fulfillment and connectedness, of Whole. With control of prana, comes control of the monkey mind, and increased physical and mental health, concentration, harmony, relaxation and ease in your life.
Life is a meditative path. Yogis have some ‘far-out’ ways (as my teacher would say) to help you along, and pranayama is one of them.
I am a Wild Woman I Love myself I Embrace myself I Praise and encourage myself I trust the deep Wisdom pouring out of me I let life enfold naturally Walk my path with dignity and listen to the precious whispers of my Soul
I am a good woman and I am bad I am soft, I am mad, I am pure, I am chaos, I am gentle, I am fierce, I am mild I am a Wild child Nothing can tame me
As I am a Wild Woman I Dance to the beat of my own drum
At night I howl to the Moon and as the wind takes my sorrows I let the wolf moan Connecting with our Elders Reflecting on life Nothing can destroy our purity For Wildness I strive. ॐ heart emoticon
It seems to me that without breath, there is no bandha.
In fact, as the title says, from breath comes bandha. My logic works like this, if we’re going to try and control as well as use energy in our body, then we have to be bringing that energy in. In yoga, there is one way in which energy comes in and it is through the breath.
My teacher John Scott directed me to my first personal and direct experience of the connection between breath and bandha. At the point where I met John I had been practicing Ashtanga Yoga for about one and a half years. I was in the UK to teach anatomy workshops for the very first time and I had booked on to study Ashtanga Yoga with John for two weeks.
At the end of the first week John said to me something like, “David, you’ve shown up with a full primary series, but no breath and no bandha.” Needless to say I was crestfallen. At that point I thought I understood what breath and bandha where. To be honest I might have intellectually known what they were, but I hadn’t experienced them in the way that John was talking about.
John is not the type to make a comment like that and then not show or explain what he’s talking about. Occasionally you find teachers who flippantly say that you can’t do this or that pose because you don’t have bandhas, but then they don’t show or explain what they mean. John sat down next to me and put my hand on his abdomen while he was breathing and I continued to hold it there while he did a few different type of asana. Whatever I had been doing, it wasn’t what John had done in that moment. I had one more week of practice with John and then I was headed home at which time I gave every ounce of my effort to holding my navel in the way John had.
I purposely did not focus on the asanas depth, only on whether or not I could breath correctly while holding my navel in, in the same way I had witnessed John do it. Over the course of the following three months, practicing six days a week, I slowly started to understand. The breath led me to understanding bandha and slowly but surely there was a lightness and ease to my practice that I hadn’t experienced before that.
The Anatomy Part
There is plenty of debate about what the “right” type of breathing is in yoga. The more classical yoga practices such as Sivananda use a belly breath; those of us doing a more vigorous ashtanga type practice keep the belly in during breathing. Other methods don’t really pay attention to the breath at all. I must acknowledge that because I’m an ashtanga practitioner my experience and understanding at this point is colored by that method. It’s not to say that the way it’s done in ashtanga is the “right” way, I see it as a technique to elicit qualities in the practice.
Now, my job is to make this anatomical in some way, which I will do in short order. First, as a reminder from the last two articles mula bandha refers to the root lock, which is associated with the pelvic floor. Its purpose is to prevent the downward flow and escape of energy through the bottom of our torso. Uddiyana bandha is translated as “upward flying” and is the energetic lock that is responsible for making upward moving energy as well as the lightness we see in an advanced yogi’s practice.
In those last two articles we associated the mula bandha with the pubococcygeal muscles and the uddiyana with the psoas muscle.
The main muscle of respiration as many people know is the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a muscle with a shape unlike any other in the body. I often refer to it as dome-shaped. The image I provided with this article (which came off the web) refers to it like a parachute.
As far as attachments of a muscle go, the diaphragm stands alone. Most muscles attach from one bone to another and then moves those bones relative to one another. Because of the attachments of this muscle in its posterior part on the spine and then circling around the bottom of the rib cage until it gets to the xiphoid process at the bottom of our breast-bone, the fibers of the muscle run up and down and attach at the top of the dome to what’s called the central tendon. When the muscle contracts it’s going to shorten those fibers and one end is going to move toward the other.
There are two ways that the diaphragm functions and this relates to whether we breathe into our belly or into our chest. It is also the key to the overlap and how mula and uddiyana function anatomically and the physical effect they create in our torso.
The first way we’re going to talk about is the way that everyone believes is the biggest deepest breath, often referred to as a belly breath. In this kind of breath it’s common for people to think that their diaphragm moves down between 3 and 6 inches and therefore forces the abdomen to push out almost the same. As much as it might feel like this, it isn’t happening. In fact, on our biggest belly breath the top of the diaphragm isn’t moving down much more than an inch, if that much.
This will seem obvious when I tell you that the heart is sitting on top of and connected to the diaphragm via connective tissue. If the diaphragm moved down that far, what would happen to the heart? You don’t really think your heart is going to move down between 3 – 6 inches when you breath, do you?
Now, with this first way of breathing the diaphragm contracts and as its surface moves down it pulls on the connective tissue bags that surround the lungs. As a result of this a negative pressure is created in the chest cavity and the lungs fill. It is the diaphragm moving, even just an inch that pushes the abdominal contents below and the abdomen out.
The second type of breathing is different and it changes the sequence of events that happen when one breathes. In the first breath (take a couple with your abdomen moving out) the abdomen pushes out on the inhalation first and then toward the end of the breath the chest fills. In addition at the very end of inhalation you may also find that you feel a slight pressure on your pelvic floor as it stretches or is pressed down by the abdominal contents.
The second type of breath causes the diaphragm to work in a completely different way. In order to make this happen we have to do a couple of things. These are to change the tension in different areas of the abdominal container. By abdominal container, I mean the container created by the diaphragm on top, the pelvic floor on the bottom, and the abdominal muscles around the side and front.
There are two ways in which we change the tension in the container. The first one is to contract the pelvic floor muscles. The tightening of the pelvic floor means that when pressure comes down from the diaphragm contracting it won’t push those tissues downward, because the tension prevents it. This of course is the purpose of mula bandha, to prevent the downward movement of energy.
The second way in which we change the tension in the container is to pull the navel in and hold it there during both inhalation and more easily during exhalation. If you also hold the abdomen in and take a breath, you will quickly notice that the breath goes into the chest right away. The diaphragm no longer has the ability to push down and the abdomen obviously can’t go out. The force gets re-directed upward into the chest. Isn’t this the purpose of uddiyana? That is, to direct the energy/breath/prana upward?
This represents the second way in which we can breathe. By holding the abdomen in, the diaphragm is forced to produce a different action. Instead of the top of the diaphragm moving downward as it did in the first type of breath, the top of the diaphragm remains still.
With the top of the diaphragm remaining still, it’s obviously not going to lower down. Instead the fibers of the diaphragm pull the lowest ribs upward. Keep in mind that the ribs are not in our chest parallel to the floor. Instead they are angled down. As the diaphragm contracts in this way the front of the ribs lifts upward once again making space in the chest cavity (just in a different way). With the space made, negative pressure is created and air rushes in.
Let’s recap. If you do nothing but take a big breath, the abdomen and pelvic floor (to a much lesser degree) get pressed outward. If you put a bit of tension into the pelvic floor and the abdomen, preventing them from going out as one does when applying mula and uddiyana bandha, then the diaphragm literally functions differently and the breath is re-directed upward. My point being that this is in essence the purpose of the bandhas and stimulates their deeper and subtler aspects as energetic components for practice.
This is not a critique or judgment about which way of breathing during yoga is correct. Both are correct depending on the method one practices. What I am saying is that the technique of physically creating mula and uddiyana during an asana practice change the way in which our breathing happens, literally and physically. That literal and physical change is in line with the intention of mula and uddiyana.