If we appreciate the role of breathing in Āsana how can we make it longer?

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Question by Desikachar during my 121 lessons 1980:
“If we appreciate the role of breathing in Āsana how can we make it longer?”

From my notes from his response:

1. By using a valve, such as the throat (Ujjāyī) we can:

  • Influence the length of the inhale and exhale
  • Create a uniformity of breath
  • Observe the quality of the breath
  • Control the movement of the breath
  • Appreciate the limits of personal endurance
  • Deepen the quality of the Āsana
  • Focus the attention, as long as it is a means to an end

2. Use of throat control is:

  • A point that leads you into the posture
  • A vehicle by which we know the whole posture
  • Generally easier on the exhale
  • The cause, the feeling is the effect
  • Just the centre of the action.
  • The feeling is elsewhere, not with the sound

3. When using throat control:

  • The face should be relaxed
  • There should be a good feeling of and for the breath
  • The person should be able to exhale through the nostrils

4. The sound:

  • Is not necessarily in the throat, this is only where the air is felt
  • Is not important, it is the feeling which is important
  • Level depends on the Āsana fatigue level and individual training
  • Allows you to know whether a person is breathing well

The above guidelines on Ujjāyī are extracts from the Study Manual that accompanies the four day viniyoga of Āsana Module Three Course with its focus topics:

  • Why and how we use Movement or Staying in planning Āsana practices
  • Why and how we use Breath in planning Āsana practices
  • In-depth exploration of Primary Āsana in planning Āsana practices

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