Living in an area with a yoga studio – or many – can provide numerous opportunities to take classes or workshops that go beyond a flow. Sometimes it may be with studio teachers expanding upon their areas of interest, it may be breakdown intimidating inversions, and the trainings may also be with visiting teachers, some of whom you may have heard of or read about before. Next month The Mat is hosting a training with Nikki Myers on pranayama, bandhas and mudras. These are words that may have come up in a flow class before, but what are they?
Pranayama is breathwork, with many different practices of controlling the breath to achieve different things, such as warming the body, cooling the body, calming, etc. One common pranayama that may be familiar to many from yoga class is the ujjayi breath, or fire breath. It’s that back of the throat, ocean sounding breath that a teacher may invite students to begin practicing at the start of class. The idea of ujjayi breath is to begin generating heat from the inside to warm the body, but if maintained for a part of my practice, I’ve also found that it helps me to focus more on linking breath to movement.
A bandha is the term for what are known as “locks” in yoga, a lock of inner muscles that when activated are said to further one’s practice by aiding in directing energy. To be honest, my experience with the bandhas is minimal. I’ve come across the term in class and in training, but have had limited practice. Of these three practices, this may be the less common one.
Another concept familiar from yoga classes are mudras, hand gestures that I think of to aid with focus, whether on a particular intention or idea. One of the more common mudras may be the Anjali mudra, the palms pressed together in front of the heart. It’s a gesture of salutation or offering, and it’s how many of us may close a yoga practice, bringing our hands together and bowing our heads in gratitude of the practice we’ve completed.
Another mudra that I connected with was the Ganesha mudra, and not just because I like the idea of Ganesha. In mythology, the elephant headed god is also known as the Remover of Obstacles, and feeling the strength in my arms as I held this mudra and thought of breaking through my own obstacles was a powerful image and reinforces how and why mudras can be incorporated into a practice.
To learn more about these three practices and incorporating them into a personal yoga practice, Nikki Myers’ workshop will take place over the course of a weekend – Friday through Sunday – September 28-30. Visit The Mat Yoga Studio’s Events Page for additional information on this workshop and other upcoming events.
This is the part of a series of posts for The Mat yoga studio, sharing my thoughts and observations as a student only. The views and opinions are my own.