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Season 1 - Episode 3

Breath of Motivation

10 min - Practice


Bringing our attention to our breath loosens the grip of the stories of the past and future and brings us into the present moment. Kira introduces a simplified version of the Ujayyi Pranayama, a warming and focusing breath pattern which will help motivate and sustain the practice of asana.
What You'll Need: No props needed

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Dec 23, 2014
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(swooshing waves) So the yogis have long suggested that we bring our attention to the breath. Many reasons. One of them is simply because it's very focusing. It's almost impossible to breathe ahead of time. It's almost impossible to re-breathe yesterday and so when we bring our attention to our breath, when we truly let our awareness focus in on simply the inhale and the exhale, it holds us in what sometimes gets referred to as the present moment.

Now, it's no easy task and you must realize that every time it's suggested that you bring your attention to the breath, it's likely that you'll experience a little bit of mutiny because absolutely necessary to maintain the tension of the small or another way to put it is the story of I, me, mine is the sense of the past and the future and as soon as we bring our attention to our breath, those two regions of a sense of the past and a sense of the future loosen their grip, soften, dissolve a little bit and so the part of us that wants to hold on to that story will resist drawing the attention to the breath so just know that that's totally normal. Now, one of the reasons, one of the second reasons that we like to bring our attention to the breath particularly in the practice of the asanas or the postures is it's super helpful because every time you inhale, just do it right now with me, inhale, you get this expansion, this lift, this inspiration and every time you exhale, do it with me, you get this ease, this softening, this release. So just right now, just notice that you can inhale. There's a natural inspiration, enthusiasm, excitement and as you exhale, there's an ease, a relaxation. So normally in the practices of yoga, nothing is ever always true but most often.

As we're getting ready to do something, as we're essentially getting the gumption up to do something, we inhale and then most normally, not always but most usually as we're dropping into something intense, as we're actually surrendering, relaxing, hoping to like let a situation deepen, we exhale. One more thing I'd like to share. While I don't in this particular season emphasize the, what's known as the ujjayi pranayama which translates as the victorious stretching of the breath. While that's not something we get into too much in this first season, let's just explore the slightest bit just so that you have a little sense of how the breathing might work better. So just try this.

Reach your left arm up. Bring your right hand just about the side ribs here and just with your right hand around the ribs, just see if you can feel, inhale into your hand and then exhale, let the hand soften into you. Okay, inhale, breathe into your hand. Exhale, let that soften. So what you're feeling there, continue, what you're feeling there is the movement of a region known as your diaphragm.

You're feeling your ribs lift and your diaphragm essentially contract. Nice, let's just do that on the other side so reach your right arm up. Bring your left hand around. This might be the most affection you get all day so get into it. Inhale.

Exhale, let it happen. Okay, inhale, breathe into your hand. Exhale, feel this soften. Just do this a couple more times. Just start to become aware of the movement of your breath here.

Nice. Beautiful. Okay, now let this arm relax. Now, see, not everybody, this is one of those ones where this depends a lot on your shoulder rotation and your wrists and your elbows. Some of you will very easily be able to bring your hands here but not everybody's shoulders, elbows, wrists allow that so another option if this anatomically doesn't work then you might just wrap and we sort of liken to the fact as if you were cold so you either hug, okay, or.

And then once your hands find that same spot, just see if you can feel, inhale, breathe into your hands. Letting your ribs widen. And then exhale. Letting the ribs soften. Do that two more times.

And you might notice as you really start to use your diaphragm to breathe, you might notice that your throat naturally closes and you get the slightest little whisper sound or some people liken it to Darth Vader. Can you feel that? Can you feel that drag a little bit? And let's do it one more. I know I said only two more times but let's do it one more time.

Can you feel as you inhale and breathe wide into your ribs, can you feel that little drag and even hear it? Nice. That's the beginning of the ujjayi pranayama. And so the play there is as you inhale, just continue letting the ribs widen, feel that little drag on the throat and as you exhale, letting the ribs soften. This is a heating breath.

It's a slightly stressful breath. You probably can feel it in the back of your throat a little bit. It's an enthusiastic breath and when we're just beginning the practices of yoga, much enthusiasm is needed because the are always winning. The asuras are the, this is so complex but the darker forces. Okay, so sometimes we need a little bit of fire.

So number one, the focus on the breath is just simply a place to let the mind be held steady, okay, and help you stay with what is. And number two, if you just add this little bit of ujjayi pranayama, just this little bit of effort to the breath, okay, not only does it help you focus on it cause it's slightly effortful and there's a sound but the heat, okay, will help motivate you in your physical practice. These are just ideas and sometimes helpful, sometimes not. You have to find out for yourself. Thanks for being here.



Lydia Zamorano
love. especially the idea that if you breathe diaphragmatically the ujjayi sound happens naturally. so balancing with the effort piece. also the asuras! (sp?) very beautiful to bring that to light. thank you.
Lizzy R
1 person likes this.
Thank you. I enjoyed feeling the movement of my ribs in concert with my breath. Thanks for the encouragement and tool to persevere through the stagnant energy!
Rebecca Sophia S
Aileen M
Lovely Kira, Thank you!
Kira Sloane
Aileen !
Elle H
1 person likes this.
Love the breath lesson Kira Thank you
Kira Sloane
Thank you for being here, Elle. xok
Asia Morrisseau
Well I enjoyed my first Yoga practice with you Kira Sloane I have enjoyed every moment and found you to be a huge inspiration! I can feel kindness and wisdom coming from your soul!! Namaste :)
Alex P
David G-
Thanks for breaking down Ujjayi  breath. 
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