I DON'T ALWAYS LIVE IN THE UJJAYI BREATH + HERE'S WHY
I grew up with asthma. It was rarely extreme, and it mostly impacted high-intensity cardio. Beyond the inhaler, asthma drove me to seek medical treatments a few times, but I can count those occurrences on one hand.
The majority of the time, asthma was a hassle that affected my ability to get in a good sweat, but I found ways around that. Even now, I still go to the gym, commute via bike and take a run when I feel like it, but I'll take a quick inhaler puff if need be.
We talk about a lot about options in the yoga practice, but the ujjayi breath is brought up in a lot of classes. Sure, it's "in my practice" as we say, meaning I can accomplish the oceanic "oh" and "ah" sounds that occurs when you constrict the back of the throat.
As a whole, breath retention is not much my jam. I know there are benefits to learning those techniques. However, my body has long learned that not breathing = big problem. It's what sends me to grasping for medication or maybe to the hospital. It's in my bones (or lungs, as it were). Breath retention is more than discomfort. It's a bodily panic that does not serve me well.
Why would we want to retain the breath? I once got looked at wildly for asking the question, and to be honest, I felt a bit judged. It's as if as a yoga practitioner and teacher I should already know. What I know in my body is different than the experience of others. It always is.
There are times when I use the breath of fire, ujjayi or another style of retained breath work, but there are so many ways to practice. Just as the number of people in the world, there are styles of yoga practice. For me, just to know that the breath can flow freely in my body gets me to a place of stillness.
IMAGE: Diego Hernandez, Unsplash