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Ashtanga Yoga Encyclopedia
- For every asana, there is a
defined number of inhalations and exhalations. Every
movement in the Series is linked with an inhalation or exhalation. This aspect of the Ashtanga
Yoga breathing technique is called the "vinyasa". The
Series is like a piece of music, a composition in which every note has its
defined place. Change one note, change one breath, and the composition
goes out of tune, the rhythm of the practice fails. It is impossible to practise Ashtanga Yoga
without an understanding of the breath or without the proper rhythm. Many asanas
cannot be practised at all without the proper linking of the movement to
the rhythm of the breath (try it with ardha baddha padmottanasana
of the Fundamental asanas, for instance!).
- On one hand, using the breath will
make it possible to do certain asanas, to keep the balance, etc.
This is the "technical" side of it. But we consider it more
important to contemplate the mental effect. Yoga means to control the
mind, to halt the eternal flicker and to be completely focused on the
"Right here, right now". Keeping the mind busy with the counting
of the breath helps to achieve a state of "moving meditation"
without distractions from the world around us – and this is what we
understand to be the purpose of the rigorous practice. This is the
difference between yoga and contortionism.
- "Ujjayi breath" is a frequently-used term in Ashtanga Yoga. "Ujjayi" means "victorious". This emphasizes the importance of the breath in Ashtanga Yoga. Explanations of ujjayi
as a certain breathing technique which involves the creation of sounds
in the throat etc. are, according to Manju Pattabhi Jois and David
Williams, not correct because Shri K. Pattabhi Jois had never taught