The Tragus is the flap of cartilage that runs up from your cheek over your ear ‘hole’! In the practice of Bhramari Pranayama we gently push the tragus with the thumbs to ‘stop up the ears’ and close off outer sounds. This helps us to focus on the inner sound of the humming and feel the soothing vibrations in the head.
This term, in the general classes, we’ve been practicing Bhramari, using it to quiet the mind before our relaxation. One of the many benefits of Bhramari is to lift depression; it’s a good practice to learn so that come the moment you need it you can bring it into your practice to alleviate any symptoms of feeling blue or a bit down in the dumps.
There is an excellent article by Dr Timothy McCall here if you are interested in learning more about this practice and it’s therapeutic uses.
Ujjayi Breath is a great practice for relaxation – calming for the mind and soothing for the body. It is also great treatment for anxiety and insomnia. Please be patient with yourself when learning this practice as it’s not the easiest practice to do.
Sit in a comfortable position, the spine erect and the eyes softly closed. Allow the breath to become steady, calm and relaxed; breathing through the nostrils and encouraging the breath to be full. Don’t force breath in or out, let it come naturally and feel the ‘ends’ of each inhale and exhale.
Bring the awareness to the throat and gently contract the glottis and continue to inhale and exhale with awareness at the throat. (If you are new to this practice, try exhaling through the mouth making a ‘haaaa’ sound. This will enable you to discover the contraction of the glottis. Tilting the chin down slightly can also help.)
Allow the breath to smooth, deep and slow – it will sound like baby snoring or waves breaking on the sand. Explore the gentleness of this breath – don’t feel as though you are gripping at the throat.
When established with the practice, with each inhale and exhale take your awareness to the abdomen, chest and throat in turn as they expand and contract to encourage full yogic breathing.
Ujjayi is a wonderfully calming breath and can help to relieve insomnia. Simply practice in bed in shavasana when sleep is being illusive.
Practice for 5 – 10 minutes each day – great for calming the body and mind before asana practice, meditation or relaxation.