This past week in class we explored bellow breathing. Bellow breathing really opens the chest, lungs and mid back. It’s good at clearing out any physical or mental fogginess or stagnation. Throughout the vinyasa practice, we brought bellow breaths into several poses and specifically into one breathing exercise.
Students centered themselves with their breath. After setting intentions and singing Om, we practiced our first bellow breaths. Students sat in sukhasana. On the inhale, they stretched their arms straight out to their sides and a little behind them to really open the chest; on the exhale they rounded their backs a little and touched their palms together, arms stretched in front of them and their face turning toward the floor. They did 8 rounds, and each student chose a pace that suited them. Next, we took the arms overhead with hands clasped in steeple mudra. It’s hard to hold the arms and hands like that if you have tightness in the shoulders. I encouraged students to notice how their shoulders and upper back opened up over the course of the practice as they took steeple mudra several times.
Our flow was less traditional this week. We went into standing poses before surya namaskar B. We did a temple-triangle flow in which we took bellow breaths in temple pose and then into steeple mudra overhead. Yogis opened their hamstrings in parsvottanasana, opened their backs in cobra variations, got grounded in a Warrior 1 flow with bellow breaths, plus some deep twists such as cresent twist and chair twist with steeple mudra. Challenging transitions kept strength pulsating throughout the practice.
Students listened to the feedback of their bodies in yoga poses to see what was being asked to be noticed, so they could act in a way that supported those needs. We all accumulate tension in our bodies, and sometimes its because we’re not listening to those cues. We deepened into standing pigeon and half moon & later into crow, pigeon, camel and boat.
Towards the end of class, we practiced kapalabhati breath… another form of bellow breathing. Students kneeled, and I explained the whats and whys of this technique. We did a practice run, and then 3 rounds of 30 breaths per round. After each round, we held our breath for about 3 seconds and then let it out with a big exhale. Working with the bandhas in that way of retaining the breath and energy and then letting it out allows you to flood your body more strongly with breath to create some great energy moving through the body. A nice savasana allowed students to quiet down, slow down and receive deep rest. From my heart to your heart, Lynn