Nude or comfortably dressed, on a
thick rug or pad, kneel or sit up straight. Face a mirror and
notice how your spine and ribs shift as you expand and contract
your lungs. Imagine life’s like breath; you live as you breathe.
Inhale: Breathe in through
your nose as you look in your own mirrored eyes. As you inhale,
lower your chin slightly and lift the back of your skull.
Stretch the back of your neck. Imagine your crown reaches up to
the sun or a star. Your skull tugs your top neck bone, the
atlas, heavenward. The atlas in turn stretches the axis, the
bone below it, up. Axis pulls up the neck bone beneath it. In
turn stretch each cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral vertebra
Lift your ribs and suck air
through your nostrils into your lungs. Direct the air first to
the top of your lungs, your upper chest. Then let the tops of
your lungs press your middle ribs wider. Fill the space between
your shoulder blades with air. Pull your shoulder blades back
toward each other. Keep your belly firm as air fills your lower
lungs. Still inhaling, lower your diaphragm toward your pelvis.
As you complete inhaling, let your diaphragm drop. Curl your
tailbone back toward the space behind you.
As you assume chakra yoga
postures, you inhale whenever you lift your arms, expand your
chest or arch your back. Inhale when you stretch into backward
bends or extension positions. Inhale also when you straighten
from twists or side-bends.
Exhale: As you breathe
out, curl your tail bone forward (to the front of you) and
upward--toward your navel--as you pull the front of your
sit-bones into the earth. Draw each successive backbone–sacrum
to atlas–down toward the earth between your hips. Tighten the
muscles of your perineum, then tighten your belly muscles and
draw your navel in toward the spine. Ribs, chest and shoulder
blades relax downward as your diaphragm rises and pushes air out
of the bottom of your lungs.
Experience air flow up and out of
your lungs. Imagine that your coccyx and the front of your sit
bones root to the center of the planet. Pretend they connect you
with the energy of the material world. Exhale when you lower
your arms or compress your chest or belly. Breathe out when you
stretch into forward bends, twists and side bends. Exhale also
when you straighten your back coming out of backward bends.
Regulate your energy level–speed
or slow heart and pulse, raise or lower blood pressure with
breathing. Just alter the ratio of inhale and exhale. To waken
and energize, breathe in longer than out. Longer inhales
oxygenate blood, increase heart speed, raise blood pressure. You
can mellow out, decrease heart and pulse rate when, for a few
minutes, you exhale longer than inhale.
BENEFIT FROM BANDHAS (Internal Holds)
(jalandara bandha; straight
neck variation): After each inhale, pull your crown skyward,
turn your chin down toward your throat (until the back of your
neck straightens). Then exhale slowly, drop your spine and hold
your head up.
BELLY HOLD (uddiyana bandha):
When you’ve emptied your lungs, suck your navel back toward your
spine and pull your belly up toward your throat.
PELVIS HOLD (mula bandha):
Tighten then pulse your pubococcygeal and anal muscles. Imagine
you pull energy from the earth through your perineum and up
through you belly, throat, out your crown, and from you crown to
your partner’s or mirror image’s crown.
Benefits: If male, you can
control ejaculation with bandhas. Recognize internal cues
to ejaculatory inevitability--twinges in your prostrate and
seminal vesicles. When you feel the twinges, if you don’t
prevent it, you’ll soon squirt. You can avoid squirting without
losing your erection if you take six or more bandha
breaths–inhale, throat hold; exhale belly hold then pelvis hold.
Women with male lovers can teach them the bandhas.
For everyone, bandhas flatten the
belly, pull the internal organs up and condition your visceral
and lower back muscles.
If you do the yogic breathing
with the bandhas for fifteen minutes or so, energy rushes
up your spine and your whole body vibrates in a full-body