By Claude Aoukar
When teaching yoga, I used to start the session in Tadasana asking the students to breath in and out, feeling each vertebra of the body in order to achieve focus, concentration and stillness of the mind. One day I was interrupted by a young athletic lady who asked me, “What were the advantages of going so slow?” I felt that a few notions of chakras and bandhas has would be necessary to answer her demands.
She was a beginner and was trying yoga to relax, gain some flexibility and burn some fat. I did not want to scare her with some yoga philosophy or complicated words.
So I asked the class to go back to Tadasana, to divide their skeleton up to the skull to seven parts, root, navel, solar plexus, heart, throat, eyebrow and top of the head.
Now, let’s draw a mirror with our palms facing our nose and mouth, and we started gently fogging this mirror. We closed our eyes and went with a soft breath exploring down and up the 7 centers of energy. After a couple of inhalations and exhalations, we relaxed. Then, I told them that this was the essence of yoga because unlike many other stretching activities, in yoga we are aiming the dormant cells in our body in order to gently awakening them. This was the secret of a better health, better detox, and more psychological balance. Breathing means life. Better breathing would be a better life.
After this elementary class of pranayama, I noticed a real change of attitudes in my class. The students became more keen on going in slow motion as if looking for the tiniest ailment of their body, they were trying to oxygenate it and heal it using all their senses and gaining more and more sensibility.
Awareness is the key to a good yoga session.
Since then I decided to integrate bandhas and even some Viloma Pranayama to my beginners class of yoga. The more the students become acquainted with the art of distributing energy within their body, the more they felt the limits and nodes to adjust and defuse, the better their yoga session got.
Trikonasana was an ideal pose to grasp the subtle meaning of bandhas. When you exhale bending sideways you are unconsciously compressing your root Chakra as well as you navel one, turning the head upwards would also compress the throat chakra. All what it takes to feel and get to the notions of bandhas is progressive awareness of your breathing squeezing and diminishing in each of the 3 parts. When a student understands that this movement helps diffuse the energy to the dormant cells beneath and above the mentioned chakra, he is willing to follow his breathing with more sensitivity, perception and correct knowledge. Synchronizing between the body and the mind becomes a subtle game to enjoy.
Inasmuch as we inhale lifting the arm up, we are inflating progressively the abdomen, the lower chest and the upper chest. Learning to slightly pause between each part gives you the dimension of the life- force you are inducing and channeling within your body up to your brain.
This awareness of the breathing is randomly present in any posture of yoga you pick. All you need is, doing it slowly and focusing your mind to absorb the sweetest inner sound coming from within.