I don’t know if you have to do this outside the British Wheel of Yoga teacher training programme, but I have to keep a pranayama diary for the next 3 months -starting today. I though I would share my diary on this site. I already have a daily pranayama practise but it’s a different prospect having to log it. The recommendation is for between 10 and 20 minutes per day. My tutor,Michael, says he does his pranayama in the early evening before his evening meal. My other tutor, Fiona, encourages us to take a step back when embarking on this diary – so, I am beginning today with some gentle Ujayi breathing. The basic plan is to practise in a certain way for one or two weeks and then change. I am a great believer in ‘Beginner’s Mind’ in yoga – because then, as Zen Master Suzuki says – the possibilities are endless – only the expert thinks he knows everything. Perhaps you would like to try this with me. In your Breathing Room – 10-20 minutes a day of the pranayama practice of your choice – take a step back, and start with a beginner’s mind.
If you have never tried Ujayi breathing before, please only begin with the out-breath. Can you imagine the sound you hear when you place a seashell to your ear? OK – hold that thought. Now, breathe in through the nose and gently ‘haaaa’ the breath out through the mouth. In through the nose – ‘Haaa’ the breath out – quite gently through the mouth. Good. Now do the same thing again but keep your mouth shut. If you are trying to ‘Haaa’ the breath out with your mouth shut, you should experience a constriction in the throat -this makes a noise like someone snoring quietly. It might only be audible to you inside your head – it’s not meant to be loud. This is Ujayi. Ujayi slows your breath – so if you do it on the out breath to begin with, you are extending your exhale. Start with just a few breaths and build up.
Never underestimate the power of the breath. This may seem like a small thing, but it is the beginning of wonders.