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Your Health & Fitness Journey

By Coast Fitness 30 Oct, 2017

By Nicole Coffey

Maintaining a steady rhythmic breath is the single most important aspect of your yoga practice. By controlling your breath, you calm your mind and bring awareness to the present moment. This awareness is the heart of yoga and it is further enhanced with the application of bandhas (muscular and energetic locks) and drishti (focal points for directing the eyes).

There are a range of pranayamas (breathing exercises) most of which are practiced while seated or lying down. Ujjayi pranayama/breathing however is typically performed throughout the yoga practice until the final pose, savasana.

What is Ujjayi Breath?

The English translation of the Sanskrit word 'ujjayi' is 'victorious'. To practice ujjayi breathing you need to first be able to comfortably practice the Yogic Full Breath. In the Yogic Full Breath the inhalation and exhalation is through the nose. As the name suggests, this breath requires the full use of both lungs. The average person has approximately 5 to 6 litres of lung capacity yet the average breath is only half a litre. We barely breathe enough to stay alive much less to be filled with vitality.

The Full Yogic Breath consists of 4 parts:

  • Inhalation
  • Pause
  • Exhalation
  • Pause

The intention is to expand the breath so the inhalation and exhalation are lengthened to your comfortable maximum. Once you reach this the next step is to bring the breath into balance by matching the length of the inhalation and exhalation and the pauses in between so that the breath is smooth and even. Ideally the breath consists of a 5 second inhalation + a 1 second pause + a 5 second exhalation + a 1 second pause which equals a 12 second breath cycle.

To practice ujjayi breathing we take the Yogic Full Breath and add a contraction in the glottis (vocal chord area of the throat) which allows us to gain more control over the breath and use it more efficiently and effectively. The application of this contraction creates an audible sound similar to the ocean which is why Ujjayi Breath is sometimes referred to as 'Oceanic Breath'. The sound helps to focus the mind and should be soothing. Ideally it can be heard from a metre away in a quiet room.

The best explanation I have heard for how to contract the glottis and achieve this sound is to make a HAAAAH sound on an exhalation as if you're trying to fog up a mirror but with your mouth closed. When you feel like you have the hang of it on the exhalation, apply the same action on the inhalation. I have found it helpful to think of the sound SAAAA on the inhale.

The more comfortable you get with ujjayi breathing, the longer and smoother your breaths will be which will allow you to better align your movements to your breath for a more powerful and integrated yoga practice.

Benefits of Ujjayi Breath:

  • Assists us to slow and deepen the breath which gives us more time and space when we align our movements to our breath
  • Calms the mind and therefore relieves stress and anxiety
  • Helps to focus the mind and keep our awareness on the present moment
  • Builds internal body heat from the friction created and muscular effort used


By Coast Fitness 12 Oct, 2017


After years of involvement in sports that put incredible pressure on knees (and other joints) I have developed an obsession for bike reading, particularly exercise bikes in an air conditioned Gym! But it’s not just about the cool comfort and big screen TV. There are a number of factors that make stationary bikes a great option for rehabbing knees’.

Controlled Environment. As opposed to being out on the road stationary bikes are not subject to the variables of weather, pot holes in the road, trucks and cars, wayward dogs etc, etc and if you struggle with balance you’re not going to fall off easily! Getting out on the road (or bike track) is great fun but the stationary bike offers a stable base that allows you to focus on intensity and form with less distractions. What I particularly like about the Keiser bikes we use  is your ability to set the bike up to suit out of saddle work where you can transfer your body weight to the handle bars and really get the “drive train” (Calves,Quads,Glutes,Hammys’) working.

 

  If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it . Great old adage and where building strength is concerned it really needs to be front of mind all the time. Stationary bikes generally come with a monitor of some sort that will allow you to track resistance, time, watts etc. The Keiser bikes allow for quick adjustments to the magnetic resistance and are great for setting up intervals and varying the intensity of your session. The monitors let you track what you’ve done and repeat (or upgrade) the session next time so you know if you are improving or not. That’s’ not as easy to do when you are out on the road.

 

You’re never too far from home. With all rehab work I highly recommend that you get directions from a medical professional before you get underway. One of the tricky guidelines that medicos will give is to stop if it (your knee)  gets painful or starts to swell which is a problem if you’re out on the road and 20km from home. A stationary bike allows you to push that little bit harder with each session and stop when you need to.


Depending on what you are looking for from your session there are any number of approaches to take on the bike with a long easy to moderate resistance session designed to reduce swelling and nourish joint cartilage through to 30 second on/30 second off interval sessions aimed at increasing strength, power and endurance.

While nothing beats a good morning ride out around the beaches and the low impact non weight bearing nature of any cycling makes it a great medium for increasing range of motion and strengthening there are distinct advantages to using an exercise bike at the Gym. 

See you in the Gym!

Steve Morrisson

Strength and Conditioning Coach

By Coast Fitness 28 Sep, 2017

By Nicole Coffey


There seems to be many people with the misconception that they can’t do yoga due to a lack of flexibility. Although participation in a group class may indeed be limited for someone with significant mobility challenges, a lot of people would be surprised by the extent to which they can participate in a yoga class thanks to the use of props.

B.K.S. Iyengar introduced props into the modern practice of yoga to allow all practitioners to access the benefits of the poses regardless of physical condition or length of study. The use of props not only allows even more experienced yoga practitioners to enter certain poses that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to but to also assist in finding correct alignment in a pose. For example, in paschimottanasana (western stretch) which is a seated forward bend (pictured) the use of a belt around the feet allows a practitioner who is, as yet, unable to comfortably take hold of the feet with the hands to still access the full benefit of the pose while maintaining a straight back.

There are a range of different yoga props, most of which are used in the Iyengar method of yoga which has a strong focus on precision and alignment. Probably the most commonly used yoga props are blocks, belts and the wall, all of which we use in our classes at Coast Fitness. Blocks are very versatile and can be used to bring the floor to you such as in Virasana (hero pose) in which a block or two can be placed under the sit bones (pictured) if the practitioner is unable to bring the sit bones all the way to the mat or perhaps they can come right down to the mat but they know they won’t be able to stay in the pose for long. As in the case of the latter, a prop can allow a pose to be held for longer.

Given the range of yoga props that are available including chairs, bolsters, blankets, even swings, someone with particularly restricted mobility can still experience the benefits of yoga through a tailored one-on-one class with an experienced yoga teacher. This tailored approach is used in yoga therapy when there is a specific issue to address such as rehabilitation of an injured body part. If this is something of interest to you feel free to come and have a chat to me and I can make a recommendation on where to go for this. Otherwise, if you’re mostly put off yoga because you don’t think you’re flexible enough then please do give one of our classes a try because you are likely to be surprised by how much you can do.

It also has to be said that we have such a great crew of people attending our yoga classes. There’s no judgement, everyone just does their best, we have a laugh and learn more about ourselves in the process. Most of our regular yogis started off as complete beginners and were willing to give it a go. Now they are really finding their stride in the classes and I can see they have made a lot of progress.

I look forward to seeing you on the mat.

 

Namaste


More Posts

Your Health & Fitness Journey

By Coast Fitness 30 Oct, 2017

By Nicole Coffey

Maintaining a steady rhythmic breath is the single most important aspect of your yoga practice. By controlling your breath, you calm your mind and bring awareness to the present moment. This awareness is the heart of yoga and it is further enhanced with the application of bandhas (muscular and energetic locks) and drishti (focal points for directing the eyes).

There are a range of pranayamas (breathing exercises) most of which are practiced while seated or lying down. Ujjayi pranayama/breathing however is typically performed throughout the yoga practice until the final pose, savasana.

What is Ujjayi Breath?

The English translation of the Sanskrit word 'ujjayi' is 'victorious'. To practice ujjayi breathing you need to first be able to comfortably practice the Yogic Full Breath. In the Yogic Full Breath the inhalation and exhalation is through the nose. As the name suggests, this breath requires the full use of both lungs. The average person has approximately 5 to 6 litres of lung capacity yet the average breath is only half a litre. We barely breathe enough to stay alive much less to be filled with vitality.

The Full Yogic Breath consists of 4 parts:

  • Inhalation
  • Pause
  • Exhalation
  • Pause

The intention is to expand the breath so the inhalation and exhalation are lengthened to your comfortable maximum. Once you reach this the next step is to bring the breath into balance by matching the length of the inhalation and exhalation and the pauses in between so that the breath is smooth and even. Ideally the breath consists of a 5 second inhalation + a 1 second pause + a 5 second exhalation + a 1 second pause which equals a 12 second breath cycle.

To practice ujjayi breathing we take the Yogic Full Breath and add a contraction in the glottis (vocal chord area of the throat) which allows us to gain more control over the breath and use it more efficiently and effectively. The application of this contraction creates an audible sound similar to the ocean which is why Ujjayi Breath is sometimes referred to as 'Oceanic Breath'. The sound helps to focus the mind and should be soothing. Ideally it can be heard from a metre away in a quiet room.

The best explanation I have heard for how to contract the glottis and achieve this sound is to make a HAAAAH sound on an exhalation as if you're trying to fog up a mirror but with your mouth closed. When you feel like you have the hang of it on the exhalation, apply the same action on the inhalation. I have found it helpful to think of the sound SAAAA on the inhale.

The more comfortable you get with ujjayi breathing, the longer and smoother your breaths will be which will allow you to better align your movements to your breath for a more powerful and integrated yoga practice.

Benefits of Ujjayi Breath:

  • Assists us to slow and deepen the breath which gives us more time and space when we align our movements to our breath
  • Calms the mind and therefore relieves stress and anxiety
  • Helps to focus the mind and keep our awareness on the present moment
  • Builds internal body heat from the friction created and muscular effort used


By Coast Fitness 12 Oct, 2017


After years of involvement in sports that put incredible pressure on knees (and other joints) I have developed an obsession for bike reading, particularly exercise bikes in an air conditioned Gym! But it’s not just about the cool comfort and big screen TV. There are a number of factors that make stationary bikes a great option for rehabbing knees’.

Controlled Environment. As opposed to being out on the road stationary bikes are not subject to the variables of weather, pot holes in the road, trucks and cars, wayward dogs etc, etc and if you struggle with balance you’re not going to fall off easily! Getting out on the road (or bike track) is great fun but the stationary bike offers a stable base that allows you to focus on intensity and form with less distractions. What I particularly like about the Keiser bikes we use  is your ability to set the bike up to suit out of saddle work where you can transfer your body weight to the handle bars and really get the “drive train” (Calves,Quads,Glutes,Hammys’) working.

 

  If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it . Great old adage and where building strength is concerned it really needs to be front of mind all the time. Stationary bikes generally come with a monitor of some sort that will allow you to track resistance, time, watts etc. The Keiser bikes allow for quick adjustments to the magnetic resistance and are great for setting up intervals and varying the intensity of your session. The monitors let you track what you’ve done and repeat (or upgrade) the session next time so you know if you are improving or not. That’s’ not as easy to do when you are out on the road.

 

You’re never too far from home. With all rehab work I highly recommend that you get directions from a medical professional before you get underway. One of the tricky guidelines that medicos will give is to stop if it (your knee)  gets painful or starts to swell which is a problem if you’re out on the road and 20km from home. A stationary bike allows you to push that little bit harder with each session and stop when you need to.


Depending on what you are looking for from your session there are any number of approaches to take on the bike with a long easy to moderate resistance session designed to reduce swelling and nourish joint cartilage through to 30 second on/30 second off interval sessions aimed at increasing strength, power and endurance.

While nothing beats a good morning ride out around the beaches and the low impact non weight bearing nature of any cycling makes it a great medium for increasing range of motion and strengthening there are distinct advantages to using an exercise bike at the Gym. 

See you in the Gym!

Steve Morrisson

Strength and Conditioning Coach

By Coast Fitness 28 Sep, 2017

By Nicole Coffey


There seems to be many people with the misconception that they can’t do yoga due to a lack of flexibility. Although participation in a group class may indeed be limited for someone with significant mobility challenges, a lot of people would be surprised by the extent to which they can participate in a yoga class thanks to the use of props.

B.K.S. Iyengar introduced props into the modern practice of yoga to allow all practitioners to access the benefits of the poses regardless of physical condition or length of study. The use of props not only allows even more experienced yoga practitioners to enter certain poses that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to but to also assist in finding correct alignment in a pose. For example, in paschimottanasana (western stretch) which is a seated forward bend (pictured) the use of a belt around the feet allows a practitioner who is, as yet, unable to comfortably take hold of the feet with the hands to still access the full benefit of the pose while maintaining a straight back.

There are a range of different yoga props, most of which are used in the Iyengar method of yoga which has a strong focus on precision and alignment. Probably the most commonly used yoga props are blocks, belts and the wall, all of which we use in our classes at Coast Fitness. Blocks are very versatile and can be used to bring the floor to you such as in Virasana (hero pose) in which a block or two can be placed under the sit bones (pictured) if the practitioner is unable to bring the sit bones all the way to the mat or perhaps they can come right down to the mat but they know they won’t be able to stay in the pose for long. As in the case of the latter, a prop can allow a pose to be held for longer.

Given the range of yoga props that are available including chairs, bolsters, blankets, even swings, someone with particularly restricted mobility can still experience the benefits of yoga through a tailored one-on-one class with an experienced yoga teacher. This tailored approach is used in yoga therapy when there is a specific issue to address such as rehabilitation of an injured body part. If this is something of interest to you feel free to come and have a chat to me and I can make a recommendation on where to go for this. Otherwise, if you’re mostly put off yoga because you don’t think you’re flexible enough then please do give one of our classes a try because you are likely to be surprised by how much you can do.

It also has to be said that we have such a great crew of people attending our yoga classes. There’s no judgement, everyone just does their best, we have a laugh and learn more about ourselves in the process. Most of our regular yogis started off as complete beginners and were willing to give it a go. Now they are really finding their stride in the classes and I can see they have made a lot of progress.

I look forward to seeing you on the mat.

 

Namaste


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