Breath - the main tool in meditation
I have been meditating for a while now and every now and then I find some ideas that help me improve my practice.
Why do I meditate?
The purpose varies for everyone, for me is to receive benefits on all levels – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
I find it really helps me dealing with stress and being calm most of the time. I have also become more aware of my thoughts and chose how I feel most of the time, somehow I feel more connected to my soul.
New research is also showing that meditation restores the brain. A landmark study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital found that as little as eight weeks of meditation not only helped people feel calmer but also produced changes in various areas of the brain, including growth in the areas associated with memory, empathy, sense of self, and stress regulation.
Earlier today, I came across this article and loved it because I am always looking on how to improve my meditation practice, so I can meditate for longer periods of time and increase the benefits.
It is about the main tool of meditation : the breath. I hope it contributes to your practice too.
How To Practice Ujjayi Breath
Begin by taking a slow, smooth breath in through you nose. You should not breathe in so much that it is uncomfortable.
As you breathe out, narrow the back of your throat passage to make the breath audible. You should be able to create a noise similar to the sound of rushing water. Use your diaphragm to control the length and speed of the breath, in that way you will also strengthen this muscle. Ujjayi breath is sometimes known as the “ocean breath,” because of the way you rattle the glottis (vocal folds) as air passes in and out.
If you aren’t sure how to make this breath at first, try opening your mouth on the exhale as if you are fogging up a pair of glasses, or saying “haaaaaaaah.” When you are able to create the sound on an exhale through your mouth, attempt the same breath exhaled through your nose. Feel the air flow out through your nasal passages.
As you practice remember that inhalation and exhalation are both done through the nose and should be an equal amount of time in duration. Make sure to keep your breath flowing and your throat open. Don’t tense your shoulders or jaw. Be careful not to overfill your lungs as it will cause tension. Finally, keep your navel pulled in while breathing.
Using The Ujjayi Breath In Your Practice At first your breaths will be shorter, perhaps two or three seconds. As you deepen your practice try to make your breaths longer. Some advanced yogis will only breathe in and out a few times per minute, but you should strive for what feels comfortable to you. After time this breath will become effortless.
When your yoga teacher tells you to inhale, make it an Ujjayi inhale, and do the same on the exhale. If you are struggling to hold a pose, remember this breath. You can use it to strengthen yourself by concentrating on sending the power created by this breath to whatever part of your body is tight.
Benefits Of Ujjayi Breath
There is a direct link between the breath and the mind. When you use this breath to allow your prana (energy) to flow freely you will feel healthy and vibrant. When prana is restricted, you will experience fatigue and fogginess.
Physically the Ujjayi breath promotes the flow of oxygen to all parts of the body. This oxygenation will build your internal body heat, which is essential to a safe yoga practice. It also helps regulate blood pressure and tones the lungs. In addition, this breath is known to balance out the cardio-respiratory system.
A study from Sweden found that Ujjiya breath reduces anxiety, depression and stress. It also showed that Ujjayi breath will give you a more positive outlook. Using this breath will release any feelings of irritation and anxiety that distract you in your yoga practice and your everyday life.
Ujjayi breathe is used continuously throughout strong practices such as Ashtanga, Power yoga and Flow yoga. It helps the practitioner to maintain a rhythm while moving through sets of poses. By focusing on your breath as you practice, you will build energy to improve your practice and clear toxins and tension out of your organs and body.
Ujjayi breath is essential during transitions between asanas because it helps yoga practitioners to maintain a sense of the present while practicing. This breath will keep you self-aware and grounded in your practice. The sound that the breath makes will link your body and mind, and minimize distractions.
You can also use this breath outside of the yoga studio. Try using it when you are feeling frustrated or angry, and you will find that it can have a positive effect on your mental state. You can use it while engaged in other types of exercises such as running, cycling and hiking. In fact, many high level athletes use Ujjayi breath in their training.
The word Ujjayi comes from the Sanskrit prefix “ud” for one who is and “ji” for victorious, thus it means “one who is victorious.” And by mastering this breath and combining it with a physical yoga practice, you too will be victorious on the mat and your everyday life.
Yesterday I spoke to a good friend of mine and she made my day. So today, I want to write about touching other people's lives and how, sometimes, we dont even know we have.
We are more powerful than we think.
Few months a really good friend of mine told me how unwell she was, suffered insomnia, shakes, night sweats, chronic pain that was affecting her ability to work and her medication was also affecting her concentration, moods, etc.
Doctors kept prescribing her with strong pharmaceuticals but she was not getting better and they could not find what was wrong.
That night, I was very worried about her and she doesn't live in Australia, so I couldn't share directly with her what I do, to try to help her out.
My feeling was that a lot of her problems where coming from her mind, so I wrote her a very long email explaining my concerns and where I was coming from.
I told her from my heart where I could see these issues ending and I did not want her to suffer anymore, it was not necessary if she made a decision to make some small changes in her life.
I suggested to try meditation, yoga and reflection. Also to see a holistic counselor who could give her some guidance and support.
I did not hear back from her for a while, I thought she would have read my email and forget about it, as it can be very difficult to change how we do things.
Last night I received a call from her and she told me she was getting better, the pain was less, she was sleeping and had managed to reduce some of the medication she has been taking for such long time.
I was happy to hear that and even HAPPIER as she told me that had taken on board my email and ideas and started practicing daily guided meditation, listening to a guided sleep meditation and is going to see a counselor in the coming month. She was calmer, sounded hopeful and happier.
I had the biggest smile on my face as I heard the news. I know, if she persists, will have a chance to find a new way to see life and enjoy it more fully with better health and presence.
It is amazing how we all can touch each others lives, that is why I love sharing my experiences, what I am learning and listening to other's perspectives, stories and ideas.
SHARE, you never know when you can have a positive impact in someone's life or even change it forever.
About a month ago I had a visitor from Argentina, he is a lovely guy, cooked for everyone in the house, helped out, he wanted to be involved with everything we did, we was really connecting with everyone, asking questions, listening and sharing.
I was very busy with Thrive events, my other job, trying to be there for my other friends, exercise, etc . I rushed around, took my visitor to places, organised dinners and gatherings but I was stressed, hectic, I couldnt sit still. I tried to be present and thought I was doing well, by not looking at my phone while I was having dinner or talking to my friend.
Then, I went to Bali for my Yoga Retreat and met my Argentinian friend there, he was waiting for his new visa to Australia. We met everyday for lunch, walks, motorbike trips around the rice fields, shared stories... and then I felt like I knew him again.
I CONNECTED: I was listening and asking questions, I was interested, I had the time and space to be there and imagine being to the places he talked about, felt what he felt, I saw a different light to him and contemplated all of these with an open heart.
I was present, my ears where opened, my heart was as well and felt love and admiration.
The next day I met him and I had to apologize for not giving him the time when he was in Australia, for not really being able to SEE HIM.
I really want to remain present at all times, calm and enjoy the light of everyone and everything around me. The challenge is to do so in our busy and hectic world.
As I find the ways to do it, I will share it with you and hopefully we can all feel connected as much as we can. Love Caro x
I would love to share with you all few memories from a wonderful experience I just had in Ubud, Bali. I was invited by Matt from Twisting Fish Yoga to attend one of his Yoga retreats.
It was over 6 days in a beautiful hotel and retreat center, with 18 attendees from Perth. We bonded, learnt and enjoyed sharing some great insights and experiences.
I learnt so much about yoga and myself and presented a mini workshop to reflect about our lives and how we can implement some of the wisdom the yoga philosophy offers.
As the days went by, I noticed how the every day rush I live in doesnt not allow a lot of reflective time, when I can make wiser decisions, be more mindful and enjoy the little things life offers and connect meaningfully not only with myself but with everyone and everything around me.
Suddenly it was all clear: we are one and we are love, I felt it and just knew it... I have looked for answers and understanding in many places including books, teachers, gurus... but they can only guide me: because the answer is within my heart.
When I need to talk to someone about something difficult: I focus in my heart and words seem to flow with love and be received as such. When I am confused, I meditate and ask my heart for guidance and it comes to me over few days of reflection.
Trust your heart.... is bigger than you think :)
I cant wait to the next retreat! What a gift for our soul!
Before going away to Bali, I was passed on some information about the Kupu Kupu Foundation, an educational place for disadvantaged disabled children in Ubud.
Ana, a lady I know from yoga, knew about it and was collecting donations to take there while in Ubud. Everyone brought something, from clothing, toys, educational materials, a wheel chair and lots of love.
We visited them and saw how simple and fantastic place they have created with hardly any funds. They can only function and help these kids through donations they receive.
I also stayed at their bungalows (see pictures), which helps the foundation to raise funds. The bungalows are very basic... the location is quiet and beautiful surrounded by rice paddies. Worth checking it out next time you plan to go to Ubud :)
If you would like to check them out, please go to
When you give, to those who needed the most, is the most wonderful feeling in world. Love and education are my favorite gifts.