The Breath has its own developmental process within an Āsana.

General perceptions in Yoga are that performance progressions in any Āsana are usually around improvement or refinement in the choreography of the entry or exit, or in the extremity of the final form.

For example if we were to compare the performance of students in say Uttānasana, evaluations would tend to be made concerning how far one bends forward, or how near the head is towards the knees, or how straight the legs are, or how close to the ground the hands are, et cetera.

However from the viewpoint of Krishnamacharya and Desikachar, in terms of Āsana practice for adults, the breath has its own developmental path within the performance of any Āsana.

Furthermore, within an Āsana and alongside the Vinyāsa Krama of getting in and out of the Āsana and what would be the focus whilst at the crown of the sequence around that particular Āsana, there is also a Vinyāsa Krama around the development of the breath.

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To influence Prāṇa, we have to influence the mind……

“To influence Prāṇa,
we have to influence the mind.
This is achieved by the means of the breath.”
– From personal lessons with TKV Desikachar

Prāṇa is that which helps us handle things……

Prāṇa is that which helps us handle things.
It is not something we can handle.”
– From personal lessons with TKV Desikachar

In Āsana the Breath is an accessory to the Āsana……

In Āsana, the Breath is an accessory to the Āsana.
In Prāṇāyāma, the Āsana is an accessory to the Breath.

Two primary roles in the adaptation of Āsana……

“Two primary roles in the adaptation of Āsana
to the needs and potential of the student are
Facilitating a decrease of tension within the body
whilst
Facilitating an increase of attention within the breath.”
– Commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 47

When less Āsana time than you would like……

When less Āsana time than you would like,
better to reduce the number of Āsana,
or the number of repetitions,
or the length of the stays,
rather than, reducing the length of the breath.
Or….. even considering lengthening the breath,
thus even fewer Āsana, all with a longer breath than usual.
Here the Bhāvana could be to observe the effect
of a more spacious than usual Āsana breathing
on a more cramped than usual daily mindset.

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 15 – Forward Bending and Prāṇa to Apāna Breathing

Postural Practice Pointer 15 – Forward bending and Prāṇa to Apāna Breathing

When moving away from the lower limbs during forward bend Āsana,
move firstly by as if arching from the arms and upper back,
before ultimately arching from the lower back.
In terms of a Bhāvana during the movement,
the focus is on inhaling from Prāṇa Sthāna towards Apāna Sthāna.
Thus breathing as if from the upper chest towards the lower abdomen.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 14 – Forward Bending and Apāna to Prāṇa Breathing

Postural Practice Pointer 14 – Forward bending and Apāna to Prāṇa Breathing

When bending towards the lower limbs during forward bend Āsana,
move firstly by as if rounding from the lower back,
before ultimately rounding from the upper back.
In terms of a Bhāvana during the movement,
the focus is on exhaling from Apāna Sthāna towards Prāṇa Sthāna.
Thus breathing as if from the lower abdomen towards the upper chest.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

The masters taught us to move from a deeper source……

“Another important aspect is that the masters
taught us to move from a deeper source,
not just from muscles and joints.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1984

Breathing techniques should support the Āsana whichever way……

“Breathing techniques should support the Āsana whichever way it needs to be supported.
Sometimes you can de-emphasise the movement by the use of the breath.
This can be in a positive or a negative role.
In a negative role the breath is being abused and not supporting by overpowering the Āsana.
In a positive role the breath can shift the emphasis or attention away from the body.
This would be useful in the case of bodily tension or a particularly sensitive or painful area.”
– From personal lessons with TKV Desikachar

Āsana practice as a prerequisite to exploring how to integrate Prāṇāyāma……


I was taught by Desikachar that we need to at least have some sort of working relationship with an Āsana practice as a prerequisite to exploring how to integrate Prāṇāyāma into our practice Sādhana.

Also in the approach of Krishnamacharya and Desikachar to Yoga practice this idea is even more relevant as important information, that guides our initial and subsequent steps into Prāṇāyāma, is gleaned from certain factors only apparent from observation of how our respiratory system performs during Āsana practice.

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Before studying Prāṇāyāma one must understand something about the breath.

seated_pranayama_2

“Before studying Prāṇāyāma one must understand something about the breath.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

Contemplate the Source of the Breath.

“Contemplate the Source of the Breath.”

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 11 – Vinyāsa for Jaṭhara Parivṛtti

Postural Practice Pointer 11 – Vinyāsa for Jaṭhara Parivṛtti

This is a suggestion for a Vinyāsa for approaching and leaving Jaṭhara Parivṛtti.
When lowering from the upward raised legs position use one long exhale,
but through two distinct stages of movement.
The first part of the exhale is to lower the knees over the chest.
The second part of the exhale is used to rotate the trunk into the twist.
The exit is the exact counterpart with one inhale and two stages of movement.
The first part of the inhale brings the knees over the chest.
The second part of the inhale extends the legs upwards.
A suggestion for Bhāvana is to gradually increase the stay.
For example stay one breath each side the first time
and then increase the stay next time to two breaths each side
and finally stay three breaths each side.
As to breathing a suggested ratio of 1.0.1.0. during both movement and stay.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

My understanding of Prāṇāyāma is that the Kumbhaka should be an aid……

kumbhaka

“My understanding of Prāṇāyāma is that the Kumbhaka should be an aid.
The aim is to get a feeling difficult to put into words, but different from normal states.
The question is how much does Kumbhaka play a part in this?
So Investigate the use of Kumbhaka and only use it when it helps you be with the breath.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

During the practice of Āsana one must constantly use Ujjāyī……

“During the practice of Āsana one must constantly engage
in regulating the exhale, inhale and retention.
Ujjāyī is to be smooth and slow,
according to the strength or capability of the student.”
– From T Krishnamacharya’s composition,
The Yoga Rahasya Chapter One verse 33

Without mastering Āsana and regulating the inhale and exhale in Āsana……

“Without mastering Āsana and
regulating the inhale and exhale in Āsana,
the Āsana will not produce the desired fruits.”
From T Krishnamacharya’s composition, the Yoga Rahasya

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 10 – Forward Bends are Back Stretches

Postural Practice Pointer 10 – Forward bends are Paścimatāna Āsana or Back Stretches

Forward Bends are back stretching Āsana in terms of Bhāvana.
Thus in Paścimatāna Āsana one of the foci is on avoiding pushing
from the lower back as you bend forward.
Thus move forward from the abdominal area by drawing it back,
to encourage the lower back to respond by lengthening.
If we push from the lower back in forward bends,
such as Paścimatānāsana, it can tighten this area,
thus inhibiting the focus on the quality of the Apāna Lakṣaṇa,
as well as transferring stress to the sacrum, hips and hamstrings.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

The quality of our breath expresses our inner feelings.

“The quality of our breath expresses our inner feelings.”
– TKV Desikachar

Do not make a style or fashion out of Kumbhaka……

kumbhaka

“Do not make a style or fashion out of Kumbhaka.
Only use it if it helps you feel the breath and
what is happening inside the body.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

The ancient people introduced holding of the breath to stop…..

“The ancient people introduced holding of the breath
to stop, to quieten the mind,
considered as linked to the movement of Vāta.”
– TKV Desikachar December 1987

One should move the spine as you would inhale and exhale.

“One should move the spine as you would inhale and exhale.”
– TKV Desikachar

Once you lose the breath in Āsana……

Once you lose the breath in Āsana,
effort becomes force.

If I had a student I would give more respect to the exhalation……

Of the Four Aspects of the Breath which is more important

“If I had a student I would give more respect to the exhalation.
The course would be based on the observation of the exhalation in Prāṇāyāma and Āsana.
This would give the type of Prāṇāyāma and for which Āsana.
One should see what is the response of the exhalation in the posture or when sitting.
When fixing Prāṇāyāma, even if you are reducing the length of the exhalation,
if any problem then the cycle should be completely changed.
One must give respect to the exhalation.
One can get an idea by the position of the stomach.
One should keep 2/3″ in hand on inhalation and exhalation.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

We are welcome to use Kumbhaka…..

“We are welcome to use Kumbhaka,
but if it in any way affects the quality of the inhale or exhale
and our own relation with this flow, then there is no meaning.
The tragedy of Kumbhaka is that we can use force,
as in Āsana, to achieve our aim.
But why and at what price?”
– TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

How you bring about the length of the breath affects Āsana…..

Āsana_26

“The difference in chest to stomach and stomach to chest
breathing is minimal in the length of the breath.
How you bring about the length of the breath affects Āsana differently.
Apart from medical restrictions,
to give respect to the chest, the spine and gravity
we need to breathe chest to stomach on the inhale.”
– From personal lessons with TKV Desikachar

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