Modulation of the breath
Much of today's session focused on the breath component of the Mind Body Breath triumvirate. In an earlier session, Prashant had described three types of breathing, involuntary, observed and modulated. This last type is what he addressed today.
He described four channels of modulation - volume, velocity, density, confinement - and took us through a series of breathing exercises to illustrate. He had us lie down in Supta Baddha Konasana over a spine-wise bolster. For a while, we were to breathe normally and observe the breath. Then, we moved into modulation using what Prashant calls 'silent utterances'. On each inhalation, he had us use our vocal organs to repeat a series of sounds, but without actually making a sound. He emphasised that we were not simply to think these sounds but to actually say them, but silently.
Some of the series we went through included:
uh, as in uncle
ah, as in father
ee, as in peel
oo, as in loot
o, as in low
With each inhalation, we would 'silently utter' uh, uh, uh, uh or ee, ee, ee, ee. We were to observe the differences in the inhalation that resulted from these different word shapes. To facilitate this, he suggested we interpose the sounds, e.g. uh, ah, uh, ah, or ah, oo, ah, oo.
Then he had us do the same thing with multi-vowel words including Padangusthasana.
I confess, my ability to perceive the differences is not sufficiently sensitive. I could perceive that trying to utter these sounds, albeit silently, changed the shape of my mouth and throat, and led to the inhalation being longer and interrupted. I could not, though, observe differences stemming from the different sounds. Clearly, there is much work still for me to do!
Revisiting the basics in Iyengar yoga’ - thematic classes by Prashant Iyengar. These sessions are taking place from 12-19 February 2021. Don't forget to check out posts for other days in the program.
Carole Carpentier has been a student of Iyengar yoga since 2008.