Essentials of Dynamic Yoga
yoga is a creative style of Hatha yoga, principles of
Astanga and lyengar. Dynamic yoga is not only
meditative but also physically
challenging. Correct breath control is essential to creating a seamless flow of
postures. Dynamic yoga draws on the bandhas (inner energy locks) to help extend
the breath. This form of yoga is very safe as long as you listen to your body.
This in itself may take some practice. Learn to know when your body is out of
balance or when you are pushing it too far - and always modify your postures
An intrinsic part of the practice of dynamic yoga is the synchronization of the
movement of your body with the rhythm of your breathing to energize your body,
focus the mind, and avoid muscle strain. Let the sound of your own breath be the
music to your dance. Never more unless you are breathing, and synchronize the
beginning and end of each breath with the beginning and end of specific
movement. The rhythm of your breath should remain steady and smooth throughout
the steps of each posture, which means that you must concentrate on the flow of
your breath and take conscious control of your inhalations and exhalations. This
is known as pranayama, or breath control. The quality of your breath is an
indication of the quality of your practice. If you are holding your breath or it
is shallow and strained, you may have gone beyond your limit and should draw
In order to stretch your body in the practice of the asanas, you must learn
how to stretch, or lengthen, your inhalations and exhalations. Ujjayi pranayama
is a unique breathing technique that enables you to increase the airflow. It
means "victorious extended breath". It involves slightly constricting the
glottis (the opening through the vocal chords) as you would if whispering. The
friction of the air passing through the constricted glottis has the effect of
creating a sound similar to wind moving through a tunnel. The easiest way to
begin to cultivate this sound is to lie on your back with the knees bent and
feet flat on the floor: Close your eyes, soften your face, and slightly
constrict the glottis, keeping your lips together in a hint of a smile. Take
deep, long extended breaths without raising and lowering the lower abdomen.
Concentrate on moving the breath up, expanding your entire rib cage and the area
supporting the kidneys. You should feel your entire back expanding on the floor
as you inhale.
The sound can be created by imaging you are saying "haaaaaaa" on the exhale
and "saaaaaa" on the inhale but keeping the lips together. This sound becomes a
tool you can use during your asna practice for concentrating your attention.
Think of it as your mantra. When your mind begins to wander, bring your
attention back to the sound and rhythm of your breath.
Correct alignment of the body is crucial when practicing the dynamic yoga
postures. The weight of your body must be distributed evenly and grounded in the
floor. Checks and balances must be applied so that the whole body is held in
balance for each posture. It is important to sit and stand up straight at the
beginning of each posture. By extending the spine, you create more space between
the vertebrae, allowing freedom of movement. To support the spine fully, you
must engage all the muscles in your body, which you must teach to work in
harmony with each other.
Bandha is a Sanskrit word that means "lock". By engaging a bandha during an
asana, your are able to regulate the flow of prana, the life-force energy that
moves through the body. There are three bandhas in the dynamic series of poses:
mula bandha and uddiyana bandha.
Mula means "root" in Sanskrit, and you engage mula bandha by concentrating the
perineum, which is located in front of the anus and behind the genitals. The
contraction is established toward the end of an exhalation and should be
maintained throughout the inhale. To start with, you may notice that you are
engaging the entire area, including the anus, but with practice you will be able
to refine the action and lift only the perineum.
The second bandha is called uddiyana, which means "flying upward". This lock is
engaged by drawing in the abdominal wall (just a few inches below the navel and
above the public bone).
It is a very subtle drawing of the back of the navel to
the spine, which allows your lower abdomen to remain soft and still. This lift
is connected with the drawing up of the perineum and will also be most apparent
at the end of an exhalation. You can practice both of these energy locks in the
Downward Dog (Adho mukha svanasana) position in the Sun Salutation sequences.
Notice that both mula bandha and uddiyana bandha connect with the breath. Have
patience: the engagement of the bandhas takes years to master fully and you will
learn to engage them only with practice.
HOW TO PRACTICE
Do not practice dynamic yoga on a full stomach. It is best to wait two to three
hours after eating before beginning a programme.
Choose a time in the day when you will not be interrupted or distracted: you
need to be able to give your full attention to practicing the asans.
It is important to be comfortable, and the clothing you wear when doing dynamic
yoga must be flexible able to breath.
The fabrics that work best are cotton
Practice in a quiet, clean, warm environment. A wooden floor is ideal, and the
perfect floor is one that allows you to practise without a "sticky
However, if the surface of your floor is slippery, you must use a mat.
Note: Avoid vigorous practice while menstruating, as this can disrupt the
flow of menses.
Instead, I suggest practicing
Utthita trikonasana ,
konasana, and Balasana, all of which are soothing and can help relieve
It is very important at this time to avoid all inverted poses
Ideally, you should ask a dynamic yoga teacher to advise on
the specific practice you can do while menstruating.
It is important not to push your body beyond its limits when practicing dynamic
yoga. If you find that a particular posture creates strain or tension in a part
of your body, withdraw from it.
A pose done with force can be very injurious,
and usually results in undue pressure being applied to another area of the body
For example, if you cannot reach the floor with your left arm in parivrtta
parsvakonasana, then bend your arms into the prayer position (as shown in the
In addition to modifying the position of your body to avoid straining, you can
also use equipment to help you in positions that cause difficult.
blocks can be very useful in helping you to balance in standing poses if you
cannot reach the floor with your hand. Equally, if your hips are tight and
restrict you as you fold forwards, a rolled towel or
blanket placed under the
sitting bones will help, and will also mean that you do not harm the
If you cannot reach your toes with your hands, try using a strap to enable you
to deepen the stretch.
If you have a specific injury or known weakness, then you must be very careful
not to place any strain on that area of the body when practicing yoga. For
example, if you have a neck injury, avoid postures that require you to roll onto
it, such as sarvangasana, without the guidance of a qualified teacher.
equally important to be careful if you have a back injury or stain.
It is best
to practice with a teacher until you understand the appropriate alternatives for
your particular injury.
Something as common as tight hips can be helped by using
a towel or modifying your position.
For tight hamstrings, bend the legs when you
cannot straighten them, and pay particular attention to the
alignment of your legs in each posture.
If you are pregnant, it is best not to
practice dynamic yoga.
There are yoga classes tailored especially for pregnant
women; try one of these for this period. You can come back to dynamic yoga after
the birth and when your doctor gives you clearance.
It is very important to rest when necessary and not to push yourself to a state
of exhaustion. If you need to rest between postures, rest in Balasana. At the
end of each programme rest in Savasana , using this pose to further your ability