The Breakdown of a Practice- Breathing

For many years when I practiced yoga, I did not think there was any rhyme or reason to the series of poses the teacher instructed.

I naively almost offered to teach one day in a gym when an instructor didn’t show up- I am so happy someone else stood up and started the class because it would have been hilarious. I honestly had no clue what actually went on!  I thought I could lead others- a yoga teacher must’ve always dwelled deep inside me.

Now, after hundreds of hours of certification… so much thought and sequencing goes into a class!  Over these next series of blogs, I am going to break down for you, pose by pose a beginning yoga class. There are some basic principles that apply to the most general basic yoga class, and like I said, when I started I had no idea what was happening around me and even less understanding of what was happening inside me.


I will start this blog series with a few common breathing techniques. This is usually how classes begin.  In yoga there are many types of breathing techniques  with many awesome benefits! I am going to pick a few of the most common just to get you familiarized.

(in Hindu yoga) the regulation of the breath through certain techniques and exercises.
At the beginning of yoga class it is important to always start deepening and drawing awareness to the breath. It sends more oxygen to the brain and signals the body to operate out of the parasympathetic nervous system.
Viloma 1- Prepares the lungs and expands the intra-costal muscles of the rib cage.

“‘Vi’ means against, Loma means hair, viloma means against the natural flow.
Viloma is an interrupted breathing technique where you pause briefly during your breath. This pranayama gently introduces the concept of expanding the breath and lung capacity through controlling your breath.”-

One begins this practice by laying down, I recommend placing your hands on your lower abdomen.  Direct the air below the navel, feel it rise and swell and pause. Hold for one or two beats, inhale again into the upper lungs and filling the side of the body, pause again. Hold for two beats. Sip in a little more air past the throat, hold at the top of this full inhalation for another two or three beats, and exhale fully out.  Allow a natural round of breath to occur.  And then repeat.

There are variations of this technique but Viloma 1 is very common in a beginner practice.

Ujjayi Breathing: “There is a magnet in your throat that draws the energy up from deep within the well of the lower abdomen.”- Geetaji

This can be done seated as well as implemented in many yoga poses. In english it is called “Victorious Breath”

Inhale through the nose, creating an ocean like sound as it glides past the throat. Upon exhalation ( which is not silent) one makes a sound as if they were trying to fog up a mirror.  This is an excellent way to drop into the body and exhale out any frustrations that you have endured through the day. As well as mentally start to focus on deeper breathing which greatly assists you in the poses.

Breath of Fire- Is a more sophisticated yet commonly used pranayama technique.
This breath is a series of rapid inhales and exhales. This technique may be uncomfortable at first, but is excellent for purifying the blood and helping the nervous system.

 How to do it

Breathe in and out through the nose (or mouth). Pull the abdomen in towards the diaphragm during the exhalation and out during inhalation. This is very fast, as fast as 2 or 3 times per second, and also very loud. The people next to you should be able to hear you. When perfected, the rate should be 120 to 180 times per minute!-




Mantra (a very powerful form of yoga) is still something relatively new to me. Even as a singer, I was shy to say “OM” out loud in a group at class. It seemed so embarrassing. Funnily enough, as a singer, the power of meditation has always come to me when I play the piano. I experienced exquisite visions. Perhaps that is why I naturally took to yoga, it grounded my heavenly head yet still allowed me to soar high and free and as far as the wind of my thoughts would take me.  When I play piano I paint the visions I experience sonically as a way to energetically bring more people. I want them to feel and see what I see.

To break down what is mantra I happened to open to the exact page about it in the book: The Deeper Dimension of Yoga. Please read below!


“Sound is a form of vibration, and it was known as such to the yogis of ancient and medieval India. According to the dominate theory of the science of sacred sound- known as mantra-vidya or mantra-shastra– the universe is in a state of vibration (spanda or spandana). A mantra is sacred utterance, numinous sound, or sound that is charged with psychospiritual power. A mantra is a sound that empowers the mind, or that is empowered by the mind. It is a vehicle of meditative transformation of the human body-mind and is thought to have magical potency.

The most widely employed and recognized mantric sound is the sacred syllable OM, which symbolizes the ultimate Reality. It is found in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. But, traditionally, a mantra is only a mantra when it is imparted by a teacher or disciple during an initiatory ritual. Thus, the sacred syllable om is not a mantra when used by an uninitiated person. It acquires its mantric power only through initiation.

Mantras, which may consist of single sounds or a whole string of sounds, can be employed for many different purposes. Originally mantras were used to ward off undesirable powers or events and attract those that were deemed desirable, and this is their predominant application. In other words, mantras are used as magical tools. But they are also employed in spiritual contexts as instruments of empowerment, where they aid the aspirant’s search for identification with the transcendental Reality.

The Deeper Dimension of Yoga: Theory and Practice


My advice, at your next yoga practice (or even at your desk at work) close your eyes and began to use your voice and your vibrations. Take a deep breath and say out loud “OOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMM”

Tips from the Top: David Lynch (Part I)

I’ve been really excited to write this particular article featuring David Lynch. His classes are popular because his method works. He immediately takes one into the present moment. Few people possess such divine humility. Although he has ethereal abilities it’s his moments of reality and referencing pop culture that adds a perfect comedic release during the apex of the practice. He has an exceptional play list and command of the room.  As well as angelic presence. He is a very special kind of  teacher. A spirit guide.

I was so happy when he responded to my weekly column with not only enthusiasm but a books worth of guidance.  So much so I had to I’ve decided to break his answers in to parts.  (I know readers are short on time). He is such a vast source of knowledge and depth it is incredible.  All of these teachers are and it has been so humbling having them open up and respond to the weekly question:

What is your advice for beginning Yogis?


Be strong enough to shed your preconceptions and step onto your mat each day, out into this world and into your own head with a nakedness born of mature innocence, a willingness to be present to the true nature of the immediacy of the moment and if you can, freed from the fetters of your past triumphs and traumas and unburdened by the unknowable unknown you will live in fluctuating moments of serenity that one day will bloom into tranquil permanent impermanence.
– David Lynch