Friday, September 18, 2009

BEFORE YOU START DYNAMIC YOGA

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BEFORE YOU START


The fundamentals of your dynamic yoga practice are covered here. Correct breath control is essential to creating a seamless flow of postures. Dynamic yoga also draws on the bandhas (inner energy locks) to help extend the breath. This form of yoga is very safe as long as you listen to your body. This in itself may take some practice. Learn to know when your body is out of balance or when you are pushing it too far – and always modify your postures whenever necessary.

BREATH CONTROL


An intrinsic part of the practice of dynamic yoga is the synchronization of the movement of your body with the rhythm of your breathing to energize your body, focus the mind, and avoid muscle strain. Let the sound of your own breath be the music to your dance. Never move unless you are breathing, and synchronize the beginning and end of each breath with the beginning and end of a specific movement. The rhythm of your breath should remain steady and smooth throughout the steps of each posture, which means that you must concentrate on the flow of your breath and take conscious control of your inhalations and exhalations. This is known as Pranayama, or breath control. The quality of your breath is an indication of the quality of your practice. If you are holding your breath or it is shallow
and strained, you may have gone beyond your limit and should draw back.
In order to stretch your body in the practice of the asanas, you must learn how to stretch, or lengthen, your inhalations and exhalations. Ujjayi pranayama is a unique breathing technique that enables you to increase the airflow. It means "victorious extended breath." It involves slightly constricting the glottis (the opening through the vocal chords) as you would if whispering. The friction of the air passing through the constricted glottis has the effect of creating a sound similar to wind moving through a tunnel. The easiest way to begin to cultivate this sound is to lie on your back with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes, soften your face, and slightly constrict the glottis, keeping your lips together in a hint of smile.Take deep, long extended breaths without raising and lowering the lower abdomen. Concentrate on moving the breath up, expanding your entire rib cage and the area supporting the kidneys. You should feel your entire back expanding on the floor as you inhale. The sound can be created by imagining you are saying "haaaaaaa" on the exhale and "saaaaaa" on the inhale but keeping the lips together. This sound becomes a tool you can use during your asana practice for concentrating your attention. Think of it as your mantra. When your mind begins to wander, bring your attention back to the sound and rhythm of your breath.



PRACTICING DYNAMIC YOGA

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PRACTICING DYNAMIC YOGA

This form of dynamic yoga focuses on the third and fourth limbs of yoga – the asanas, or postures, and pranayama, or extension of the breath. This book provides a sequence of yoga postures and transition moves that exercises your body and draws your attention to the way the breath can work with the body, helping you to extend it. The transition moves allow you to move your body naturally from one posture to another in a continuous flow, helping you to maintain your concentration and work toward the fifth limb of yoga – pratyahara.

The series of dynamic postures and transition moves presented in this book is just one of many possible sequences that can be developed using the interconnecting movements of the Sun Salutations. The entire series will take you at least 90 minutes to complete and offers a very thorough workout of all muscle groups. At the back of the book I have also suggested two shorter programs – one of 60 minutes and one of 30 minutes – that you might like to try if your time is limited. If on any particular day you are very short of time, simply practice the Sun Salutations – both A and B – several times. Remember, five minutes spent practicing dynamic yoga twice a day is more effective than two hours practiced once a week.

Whichever length of program you choose, with regular practice, you will find that not only will your physical body improve, but also your ability to focus and your level of awareness will be enhanced.

 
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