Discover How Sound Impacts Your Yoga Practice – 6 Benefits of Ujjai Breath

Axis Yoga Trainings of Denver, Colorado - Yoga Teacher Training 200-Hour Program

The Importance and Benefits of Ujjai Pranayama

The audible rhythm of ujjai pranayama or ujjai breath serves to give feedback as to the quality of our effort and, more importantly, provide a thread of concentration that carried us all the way to the end of class.  Attentively listening to the sound of the breath is enough to begin to draw us deeper into our practice and give us access to the yoga of sound.

It was Richard Freeman, the famed Ashtanga Yoga teacher, who first introduced me to the potency of sound as an instrument of yoga.  After nearly two hours of high power heat and asana, we found refuge in shavasana, a return to silence.

Richard gently coaxed us out of our trance like absorption of corpse pose, with the deeply primal, humming resonance of a Tibetan singing bowel.  The sound was a bridge between inner and outer world -we were being beckoned back to our earthly existence.

Richard regularly began his classes with students lying on their backs, knees bent, with feet on the floor.  He then instructed us to gently constrict the back of the throat, so that the air would rub across it and produce a soft audible whisper, something like wind through the trees, or the sound of the sea.

From a tantra-yoga perspective, there are four stages of sound.

Three of these stages precede gross auditory forms of sound. According to this tradition the entire Universe is set in motion by a deep current of vibrational pulsation called adya-spanda, which precedes the formation of material objects.

The most dense form of sound is the spoken word, called vaikhari.

This is the realm of sound that most of us consciously occupy.  None the less, it is possible to affect deep changes in our psyche through deliberate changes in vaikhari.  Anyone can appreciate the quality of influence of listening to the drone of competing voices at a social function and the trance-like melody of kirtan.

Entire yoga systems, such as laya yoga (the yoga of sound and chakras), kirtan (bhakti yoga), nada yoga (the yoga of inner sound), and mantra yoga (the ritualistic application of mantra) are built around the manipulation of sound vibrations.

Denver Yoga Teacher Training Yoga Event - Gong Bath at Axis Yoga

All of these systems are intended to attune us to a higher reality through specific sound currents.

While many of these sound based systems may seem out of reach, you have no further to look than the sound of your own breath to begin to discover the ability of sound to inform your practice.  One of the simplest ways to begin to infuse your practice with sound based awareness is through the ujjai breath. Ujjai tells us when we need to surrender into a resting posture, as the breath should remain almost as smooth in dynamic postures as in resting poses. It allows us to practice honesty, taking a step back to let go of our ego. Here are some additional benefits:

6 Physical Benefits of Consistent, Focused Ujjai Breath

1. Releases tension and tight areas of the body

2. Creates endurance that helps maintains the rhythm of the class

3. Decreases pain from headaches and sinus pressure, and strengthens the nervous and digestive systems

4. Heats up the core of the body making stretching safer while cleansing the inner organs of toxins

5. Improves concentration and balance in your physical practice

6. Diminishes distractions allowing for a more grounded practice

 

Sonic Gong Bath for Healing and Renewal   – Nov. 19

Join Denver’s very own master Gong Bath musician, Gary Fishman, on a vibrational journey of serenity and renewal. Fishman powerfully blends indigenous instruments, such as planetary gongs, Tibetan singing bowls, and didgeridoos.  He also integrates the use of dazzling crystals and stunning stones as part of this cosmic journey of sound and vibration.

Any and all are welcome to attend this interstellar voyage of cellular renewal.  Bring something to lye down on such as a blanket, a yoga mat or some combination of the above. Click here for more information.

Saturday, Nov. 19th.  6-9:30  |  3250 E. Sixth Ave. UCC
Suggested Donation ($10-20)

 

The ONLY Way to Know If You’re Doing A Yoga Pose Correctly

What makes a yoga pose an authentic yoga pose?

Here are several answers to this question. Can you guess which one it is?

A.You look like, and are able to smile like, the model on the cover of Yoga Journal

B.You are one of the elite few who can do handstand in the center of the room

C.You are hyper flexible, and therefore able to go deeper into the poses

D.You actually present and attuned to whatever posture it is that you are doing

 

The answer is D!

As a yoga teacher I sometimes hear would be students say “I would like to try yoga but I am not flexible enough”, as though the ability to touch one’s toes were a prerequisite to the practice.  The assumption is that success in yoga can be measured by one’s ability to bend.

Even dedicated practitioners can fall into this assumption and miss out on the deeper purpose and potential of any given asana.  In fact, it is possible to seemingly grow more and more proficient at yoga poses without ever actually practicing yoga.  If our practice is motivated purely by external appearance, than we are missing out on a fundamental aspect of yoga.

Many can attest that there is an implicit value in the postures, that is not to be discounted.  And, let us consider that the postures, along with other even more sophisticated yogic methodologies, are a means to a much greater end -Union with one’s inborn spirit.

While this may sound very lofty, it is something that can be gradually discovered and ultimately realized.  The postures can be a means to begin to approach this ideal provided we are practicing with the correct orientation.

The crown jewel of both asana and meditative practice is awareness-itself.  How attentive are we to the quality or pranic essence of our breathing?  Attuned to the quality of the vital breath, are we able to make fine adjustments to the body to accommodate a more compete experience of the breath itself?  How do subtle or overt changes in our breath affect our mind?

Through this detailed process of repositioning or repatterining of the breath, body and the mind through the postures, new neuro-pathways are built and the yogi experiences deeper and deeper levels of peace and perception.

The Sanskrit term for the joining of breath, body and mind is triputi or the uniting of three energies.  Bringing these three aspects fully to bare on the physical pose greatly magnifies the power, potential, and inborn wisdom of any given posture.

From this perspective the ultimate goal of asana is not to contort oneself into the most exotic position, but rather, to use the posture as a fuel for developing inner awareness.

Using the posture as a tool to become more conscious of ones breath, body, mind, spirit connections the essence of yoga practice is brought to life.

JOIN US! OCTOBER 16th EVENT

This month we are hosting an exclusive community yoga class in Denver that focuses on this topic of authenticity in yoga poses as well as “Asana and the Gateway to the Inner-World.” Join us on Sunday, Oct. 16th from 9:30-11:30.

Click here for more information.

Denver’s Free Guide to Evaluating Yoga Teacher Trainings – Free Guide & Worksheet

Denver's Ultimate Guide to Evaluating Yoga Teacher Training Programs with Studio Comparison Worksheet10 MUST-ASK Questions Before You Pick A Program in Denver

Some have called Colorado the mecca of yoga. And as the popularity of both yoga and Colorado have grown, the number of certified yoga teacher training programs have skyrocketed. A quick internet search will turn up dozens of training programs throughout the Denver-Metro area. But it can be challenging to determine which yoga teacher training program is right for you.

To help make this process easier, we have created a free guide to Evaluating Denver’s Yoga Teacher Training Programs that includes 10 must-ask questions and a bonus worksheet you can use to evaluate the programs you are considering.

The answers to these questions will not only narrow down your search, but will also help guide you to the training program that meets your specific needs as a yoga practitioner and future yoga teacher (if you choose to go that route).

A representative from the Denver program that you are considering should be available via email, phone or even face-to-face through open house events. If you are having difficulty getting your questions answered, this could be a sign that the program may not be a good fit.

Print and fill out the comparison worksheet at the end of this guide to help make narrowing down your selection easier. With the answers to these questions, you can find the Denver yoga teacher training program that best aligns with your values and aspirations.

Remember that the benefits of your training will feed you well for the rest of your life, far beyond the length of the program. I’m excited for you and the amazing journey you are about to embark upon. Namaste.

Click Here to Download Free Guide to Denver’s YTT Programs + Bonus Worksheet