Today, many of the classes that I joined focused on the breath.
8am Iyengar Yoga with Nikki Costello started her session with a beautiful phrase “This is a good day, the sun has risen in its constant and devotional way and we are lucky to be here to practice together, as hatha yogis, we synchronize our rhythms to the sunrise and sunset”
We practiced with a strong focus on the awareness of the passage of the breath, creating space throughout the torso in preparation for inversions, to protect the neck and let the air pass through freely and efficiently.
She gave very interesting Iyengar based tips on the practice of sirsana (headstand), I highlight some:
– the importance of the preparation poses to open space in the torso
– the position of the elbows and hands on the floor ( pinkie finger should not be tucked under the interlaced fingers as this makes our shoulders slightly uneven that can result in neck tension) and wrists should be slightly apart but not too much to prevent us from losing the structure of the base
– the head should be placed in a point aligned with the ears on the top of the head
– the shoulders should be separated from the ears all the time engaging the muscles of the upper back
The class ended with a pranayama practice, a restoring savasana and a beautiful ocean of oms that created a perfect state of openness and harmony for the rest of the day.
10h15 I joined Ashtanga Yoga with David Swenson to continue the breath journey. We did about one hour of the Primary Series guided by David´s precise instructions and hilarious sense of humor.
After that, he gave a short talk explaining the bandhas, their location and importance for the breath practiced in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga – Ujjayi breath from the navel up.
He specified that the bandhas should never make the body tight and should not feel like gripping or straining. We practiced breathing in partners and did pranayama exercises that focused on activating the bandhas and visualizing the 6 directions of the breath: from the center of the ribs forward and back, from the sides of the ribs, in two directions and upwards towards the clavicles without making the shoulders rise.
18h The journey of the breath ended today with a special class with David Lurey. In this class, we practiced a special Pranayama that I will call “Whale pranayama” because David made allusions to expulsing the exhale breath through the crown of the head like a whale. I will tell you more about this special class in my next post. 😉