Dr. Steiner on Breath in Ashtanga Vinyasa and in Yoga Therapy
The breath plays such a major role in the Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga system for a good reason. This is how Dr. Ronald Steiner explains it:
Breath permeates everything. It connects all of the aspects of man: the gross and subtile, the conscious with the unconscious. There is nothing in our existence which is not somehow connected with the breath.
Even looking at it on a purely physical level, the breath creates a lot of movement. Applied correctly, it can bring the body back into its natural balance.
By bringing our breath into harmonious balance, every part of the body seems to follow suit. For example, deep powerful breathing sets our deepest muscle fascia into rhythm - it follows and ‘breathes along’. This ‘breathing’ results in a dynamic and well-balanced tension in the fascia, creating a connection throughout the entire body and helping us to stabilize from within. Fascia can help pull joints into optimal alignment with the appropriate amount of space between the bones.
Steiner explains that the effect of proper breathing is often underestimated, and that breath therapy is a key to evoke change of behavioral patterns in many physical and mental illnesses. He adds a final comment with a smile:
Sometimes a deep breath can bring more that a year of psychotherapy or physical therapy.
I get to be a test subject
As a participant of the Advanced Teacher Training, my day begins with a Mysore Style practice. Here, everyone practices in a way that is appropriate to them. Ronald supports each of us individually and helps up to develop a personal practice. The morning practice is always quite an intense experience. Everyone is very focused as they breathe mindfully and move through the strenuous movements requiring strength and flexibility. But somehow, on this particular morning, everything just seems lighter.
Later on, Ronald checked in with us and asked us how the practice was, and if we had noticed anything different. It turned out that many of us had felt something different, but no one could put their finder on it. The practice for many was more intense, more focused, stronger or more peaceful. As many of us know, there is always a trick behind the magic show, and Ronald’s magic was hidden inconspicuously under a towel. He had been playing a recording of deep breathing in the background. We were unconsciously aware of the sound and its effect on how we breathed and moved.
It is unbelievable how essential and ultimately how effective deep breathing can be on the human organism. I know firsthand how tough it can be to maintain smooth and even breath in demanding positions, and how the fifth and last breath of a hold can be amazingly short as a result. Ronald’s small experiment with our group really fascinates me. It motivates me to continue working towards a deep and even breathing pattern.
Wave & Breath – “Breath-doping for yogis“ to support deep and powerful breath
This recording of deep and balanced breath was only the beginning. With the help of two musicians, Ronald Rascher and Bianka Harrison, Ronald took his metronomic waves of breath to a new level by interweaving soft sounds and melodies throughout different tracks. The sound experience invites you to dive into a deeper moving meditation. The individual songs are framed with the traditional mantras of the Ashtanga Vinyasa practice as well as a track to support deep relaxation in your constructive rest.
So, with the name “Wave & Breath“ a unique form of ‘doping’ for yogis arose. Be aware that this CD is habit forming, in that you will have finished your practice and already be thinking of hitting the play button for the next day as you roll up your mat.
Are you curious? Check out our preview of Ronald’s self-practice guided by Wave and Breath. Enjoy!