Different asanas, layered with different breathing patterning, create different effects on your system. For example, you can increase your energy by creating a practice of progressively deeper spinal extension postures layered with simple energizing breathing ratios, (like a short 1 or 2 second pause or retention at the top of your inhale).
But what’s even more fun and interesting is when you vary your progressively deeper backbends. Let’s look at Cobra as a basic backbend example. If you always do cobra the usual way, with your hands right next to your ribs, you will get a nice spinal extention, but you will limit your spine, muscles, nervous system (and mind) to that usual pattern.
Why is this important? Because variety is the spice of life! Changing that pattern will help you to free up movement and energy (often that you didn’t even know was locked up) and help you mitigate dysfunctional or maladaptive movement and postural patterns.
How could you vary Cobra?
- slide your hand back toward your waist a few inches
- lift your hands up off the floor with your chest and face
- start with your hands on your sacrum and “double salute” as you lift up (shown above)
- start with your hands on your sacrum and sweep them straight out and up in front as you lift up (shown below w/Jai the cat overseeing photoshoot)
- do either of the previous with just with one arm at a time
- etc. – there are SO many variations!
Now what about layering on breath? You could:
- Breath in and out with an equal ratio (typically 5 or 6)
- Stay in the pose for several breaths with a slight retention (pause at the top of your inhale).
- Progressively increase your inhale (3:6, 4:6, 5:6, 6:6)
- Progressively increase your retention at the top of the inhale (6:1:6:0, 6:2:6:0, 6:3:6:0)
- etc. – again there are many ways to vary your breath with the pose
Variations of the pose with variations of the breath create different effects. The way to better understand these effects is to practice them in poses and see how they make you feel. Of course understanding your constitution and your state or condition is helpful in being able to grasp what the practice is doing to you. Also, you don’t want to mix up too many different variations of asanas with too many different variations of breath patterning because it gets too confusing and then you don’t really know what’s working and what’s not.
Variations of poses and breathing patterning is really fun and it helps to keep your practice alive and interesting.
I welcome you to come and explore more variations October 1-2 in Asheville at Town Mountain Training Center. It’s a great opportunity to improve your yoga practice and teaching, enjoy Asheville, and hang out with super cool people. There are only a few spots left so make sure to register asap.
Here are details.
Hope you can make it!