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Phyzz Yoga is a Seattle-based mobile yoga studio that brings yoga and meditation classes to offices and unexpected spaces.

We help people energize their relationship to the way they make their living, and see the value of "yoga at work" (get it?).

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Over the last decade and a half, Karen has worked as a geologist, high school math teacher, dot-com startup geek, IT nerd, and marketing project manager. In 2008 she realized that teaching yoga required her full and undivided attention.

Based in Seattle, she teaches yoga in the home, at the workplace, and around the world. She has been teaching yoga since 2003, and practicing since 1998. She plans retreats to Northwest destinations, to Mexico, and India. Oh yeah, and she’s older than she looks.

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Ask The Yogi about Breathing, or: Yet Another Yogic Star Wars Reference

Greetings from the “Ask the Yogi” Department!!

This is quite a belated response to a question posed by a student back in March:

“I often find myself wanting to use yoga breathing techniques at certain stressful times in my day. For instance, when I’m angry, anxious, tired, or tense. Are there different techniques that work for different times in the day?”

It should be noted that, as a postscript to the question she cited complaints of insomnia and added, “I know this may be hard to explain in a blog post…but I thought it might be interesting to explore how one can apply yoga throughout their day.”

Indeed it would be interesting to explore! But first, let’s back up to the super-layman level: Wha? Yoga? Breathing? I thought yoga was just all about twisting yourself up into a pretzel?

Wikipedia Image

Wikipedia Image

Although some postures are indisputably pretzel-like, yoga is not just the postures, which simply comprise one branch, or limb of yoga called asana. Breathing, or exercises that help lengthen and thereby control (or vice versa) the breath are called pranayama. Now we say “breath” but we really mean “prana”, which is more like “The Force” in Star Wars**.

And if you didn’t click on that wiki link for its definition, I’ll save you the calories: “The Force is a binding, metaphysical and ubiquitous power”. AND:

“In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, the original Star Wars film, the Force is first described by the Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) as an energy field created by all living things, that surrounds and penetrates living beings and binds the galaxy together.”

Obi Wan (wikipedia image)

Now that you have a better idea of what Prana is, you will hopefully gather that your breath is the grossest manifestation of this ubiquitous energy – it’s the way that humans can relate or deal with prana, and use it for all kinds of things.

Which means, dear readers, that without further ado, we are at the conclusion to this extremely long-winded answer to a simple question. The answer is YES! There are different ways to control your breath for different times of the day – to energize, maintain, and to calm (Ayurvedic afficionados will note that these correspond to the three doshas…huh, how ’bout that!). You’ll find them  them below!

Note that, since these practices are explained ad nauseum in countless places on the world wide interwebs, I leave you with nothing but my sometimes-witty commentary. Enjoy!

Pranayama for….

ENERGIZING!

Kapalabhati (“skull shining” breath): an exercise for the purification of skull and lungs.  Use this one when even your morning latte isn’t kicking in and you feel like your nose is anchored to your space bar.

MAINTAINING or BALANCING

Ujayi (“breath of victory”): Some call this “Ocean Breath” or liken it to the wind whistling through the trees, but…okay, I’m going to do it. That’s right, another Star Wars reference: if you do this one and you sound a little like Darth Vader, you’re doing this right. Here’s an audio clip. You’re welcome. :)

Nadi Shodana (alternate nostril breathing): Will balance your masculine/sun/heating and feminine/moon/coolingchannels (or nadis…we’ve got about 72,000 of them.), masculine and feminine energies, your sinuses, AND help calm you down! An amazing deal for such a simple exercise.

CALMING

Brahmari (“bee or buzzing breath”):  Okay this one might solicit a few periscope-heads from your cubicle neighbors, but it’s extremely effective and, if your peeps do pop up with curiosity, ask them to join you. It might provoke a little laughter, which in and of itself is calming!

Sithali (“sipping breath”): This one takes me back to grade school when you and your friends were all, “Can you do THIS? what about THIS??” with your tongues.  But it probably doesn’t make you a better French kisser, sorry!

**yes, I know, this post just HAD to contain another (actually, more than one) geeky Star Wars reference. What can I say, I grew up with it. AND, Jedis are yogis, don’t you know??

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Comments

Pingback from Ask The Yogi about Breathing, or: Yet Another Yogic Star Wars Reference | Aramail Phone Cards
Time June 3, 2009 at 2:05 am

[...] Go here to see the original: Ask The Yogi about Breathing, or: Yet Another Yogic Star Wars Reference [...]

Comment from Deborah
Time June 3, 2009 at 2:06 am

This is incredibly helpful! Thanks, Karen!! I just tested out the Sithali breathing technique … right from my computer! … and I already feel more calm. Such great information!
ps: I love how the Phyzz blog makes yoga fit into the activities we do in our everyday lives. Keep it coming! :)

Comment from Karrie Kohlhaas
Time June 3, 2009 at 3:39 pm

I had no idea there was so much masculine and feminine energy in my nose!

I’ll be revisiting this post as I apply the three types of breathing into my meditation routine. Thanks for an informative and really fun read!

Comment from karen
Time June 3, 2009 at 4:20 pm

Yup! There sure is that much in your nose and more! Which is why neti pots are important both at the physical and the energetic level :) Thanks for the comment, Karrie!

Comment from karen
Time June 3, 2009 at 4:21 pm

Deborah, you’re so welcome! :)

Pingback from No Fear: Comics and Heightening Your Senses | Phyzz Yoga's Blog
Time June 3, 2010 at 5:05 pm

[...] you know me, or have been following this blog for a while, and have thus been subjected to a number of geeky posts, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that I collected comic books as a [...]

Pingback from Reboot Your Breath: 4 Quick Steps to Breathing Your Stress Level Down | Phyzz Yoga's Blog
Time July 29, 2010 at 12:47 pm

[...] may have read our post a while back about how Star Wars fans have a great reference for how to breathe. In this post, we thought we’d revisit the breath [...]

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