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Whats new in my approach to Asana and Therapeutic Yoga

Noah McKenna / Yoga  / Whats new in my approach to Asana and Therapeutic Yoga
Noah Mckenna Yoga Therapist and Yoga Teacher Training Purvvotanasana

Whats new in my approach to Asana and Therapeutic Yoga

There has come a time for me to start logging my work.

I haven’t bothered with this during the last 6 months of exploration but as it seems I am moving into uncharted territory i would like to leave some footprints and also some sign that this has indeed been an independent journey.

So I started using the Breathing App as a breath frequency guide for Yoga Asana practice in June 2018.

It’s been a fantastic help to apply the coherent breathing  frequencies to physical movements during asana.

Ive been applying this method to teaching classes with what I feel are very positive results.

In my opinion the app is perhaps too dense to use for 90 minute classes. The limitations are that the binaural beats produce too strong an effect for some students over a 90 minute period. The other difficulty is that 6 seconds or even 5 second intervals are too challenging for students with poor cardiovascular or respiratory fitness. While 4 seconds is too fast for some asana sequences and seems to overly stimulate the students.

As I am not yet measuring autonomic, respiratory or cardiovascular function in the students  I am only inferring the effect of this type of practice anecdotally by my own observations and from student’s subjective reports.

While I see great benefits in other and have noticed my own positive experiences I have come to approximate that a 4.5 second interval seems to suit most people best.

This 4.5 second interval is not ideal for every situation as some asana practice could definitely  move faster or slower.

From mid August 2018 I have been using the soundtrack produced by my friend Richard Silver with very good result. Richard has produced a custom made 4.5 s interval 90 minute track.  The advantage of this track over Breathing App is that it has more variety and more cues for synchronising breathing with movement during the classes. Because there are no binaural beats and also its free from solfeggio frequencies this soundtrack gives a fresh and free feeling compared to Moby’s work on the Breathing App. This has been helpful for extended use but I’d like to add here how much I also appreciate the Breathing App as a practice tool for shorter periods. To my knowledge no-one I know is using specific soun

To date I have been using breath frequencies between 4 and 6 s to attempt an autonomic toning response during Asana practice The theory is that these breathing at these sub-normal frequencies reflexly stimulates parasympathetic tone. I hope to at some stage verify this by taking Heart rate variability (HRV) data. The expected results would be confirmed with increased HRV. Further analysis with Electro-encephalography might also show positive results if the Alpha and Theta bands increased or Beta reduces. The  HRV or EEG result would need to be taken both as a baseline and post exercise for an extended period to give quality validation. Hopefully in the future I can get some assistance to make some trials with students

In the meantime I continue to experiment with breath frequencies and Asana practice. The key technique Ive been applying is to use predominantly diaphragmatic breathing during practice in all spinal positions. Because of the rich somatic effects Ive also used reverse diaphragmatic or thoracic breathing during flexed  spinal twists. The only time diaphragmatic breathing seems inadequate is in prone positions with weight bearing directly on the abdomen like Dhanurasana.

I have been exploring an experimental approach in my personal practice since I was introduced to diaphragmatic breathing by Simon Borg-Olivier in March 2017.  Id like to summarise the additional elements which have come together into quite a satisfactory synthesis. 

  1. Coherent Breath Frequencies.
  2. Diaphragmatic breathing.
  3. Reverse Diaphragmatic breathing during flexed spinal twists.
  4. Thoracic Breathing during extended spinal twists and prone position which are abdominal weight bearing.
  5. Pandiculation or inhaling while making anti-gravity concentric contractions.
  6. Stretches which require muscle tone aka Facilitated stretches and avoiding static and passive stretches
  7. Using movement as an antidote to strong contractions and avoiding stretches
  8. Di-synchronous rhythms using hand and eye co-ordination

This article is really just a log of my work to help establish a timeline if in fact I am producing something unique and valuable.

Noah Mckenna

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