Tag Archives: pranayama

How to cure hiccups with yoga

Since I was a little girl, I’ve had a tendency to get the hiccups. My mom told me I frequently had them in utero, and I still get them. In the past, I tried all the old-fashioned treatments: breathing into a paper bag (pretty good results), eating a teaspoon of sugar (no), drinking a glass of water upside down (how do you do that?) or getting someone to scare me (never works when you’re expecting it). But thanks to my yoga practice, I discovered a new way to cure hiccups: uddiyana bandha.

Uddiyana translates from Sanskrit to mean “belly flies up.” It’s what your belly does when you create uddiyana bandha. So how can you learn how to use this to cure hiccups? Follow this video from one of my teachers Erica Mather, where she instructs uddiyana bandha. Practice this a few times when you don’t have hiccups, so you can be prepared to take action when you do.

One day I realized that since hiccups are due to a spasm in the diaphragm, something that tones and relaxes the diaphragm might help. I tried uddiyana and behold!, hiccups gone. The more refined the practice of uddiyana becomes, the more you can “feel around” using your diaphragm to find the area that is under spasm and gently pull up on that area. Use uddiyana, and the empty breath retention (known as a rechaka kumbhaka), to soothe the spasmodic musculature. Now I use this technique every time I get an attack of the hiccups, and have been able to cure any hiccup attack with just one or two repetitions (and long kumbhakas) of uddiyana.

This is an advanced practice, and the bandhas are primarily energetic locks, so having the assistance of a teacher to help you understand what you should be doing/feeling and why is helpful. If you proceed without a teacher, move with caution, never rushing thru the practice and always honoring your feelings – if it doesn’t feel right, stop.

And here’s something fascinating: hiccups can be traced back, genetically, to fish.

physiological cause of hiccups

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Self-Healing Through Breathwork and Asana – a workshop

Please join me on Thursday, August 25th for a two-hour workshop at Reflections Yoga.

During this workshop, you’ll learn techniques you can utilize in your practice going forward, ideas like emotional body scanning, deep Ujjayi breathing, and long-held poses to draw up and break down old, accumulated energy. The end result of work like this is a feeling of deep emotional and cellular release, increased strength and flexibility, profound relaxation, and increased well being.

Healing begins when we release energetic blockages, which most people have due to incomplete digestion of life experiences. Trauma, disappointment, sadness, fear, and injury can lodge in the body tissue and create constriction, both physically and energetically. Deep Ujjayi breathing helps break down this energetic gunk, and the long-held poses help digest it, literally sweating out old, stuck energy. Emotional body scanning is a technique for understanding your body from an energetic perspective, and using injuries, tight spots, and sore spots as markers to track life experiences that may have left energetic deposits throughout the body.

Sometimes instead of an actual physical area of the body, what needs release and opening is a particular attitude or belief. Whatever the blockage or thing that needs to be healed, this workshop can help you go deep into your physical, emotional, and energetic body. Using your own breath, body, and awareness to explore your energetic landscape, you will find the healing potential we all have, just have lost touch with due to neglect.

Many of the techniques I’ll use in the workshop I learned during a Forrest Yoga Continuing Education workshop. Forrest Yoga is an intense practice developed by Ana Forrest specifically designed to heal not just individuals, but “the Hoop of the People,” that is, all people, communities, and groups and the interconnections between them.


Self-Healing Through Breathwork & Asana
Thursday, Aug. 25th, 2011
6:30-8:30pm/cost $25
Reflections Yoga, 250 W. 49th St. (betw. 8th Ave. & B’way), 2nd floor

Download the flyer for my workshop here

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Sitali pranayama for the heat wave

It’s 104 degrees in NYC today, and the heat index says it feels like 114 degrees. It is HOT. The energy in the streets is much quieter and less frenetic. With everyone affected by this extreme heat, people simply aren’t expending as much energy. I hear fewer loud conversations, less rushing, less horn honking. Everything seems to be running at a slower pace, which makes sense in this heat wave.

Besides drinking lots of water and trying to be in air conditioning or where there’s a lot of air circulation (especially with negative ionization, like at the beach), what’s one to do? The wise yogis of India developed a breathing technique to help in such extreme heat. Called sitali pranayama, it moistens the air as it enters the body, producing a marked cooling sensation along the surface of the tongue, and into the lungs.

Sitali is performed in typical meditation posture (head, neck, and spine in alignment, legs crossed, hips higher than knees) with eyes closed and hands in chin mudra (index finger & thumb touching).

1. Sit in comfortable meditation position, or on a chair with feet on floor, spine tall and aligned, and eyes closed. Breathe rhythmically for a few minutes, focusing on your inhales and exhales.

Forming an "O" with the tongue

2. Open the lips and form the tongue into an “O” shape by curling the edges of the tongue towards the center. If this is not possible, part the lips but keep the upper and lower teeth touching. This is called sitkari pranayama.

3. Inhale through the mouth, feeling the cooling nature of the breath as it passes over the surface of the tongue (or through the teeth).

4. Exhale through the nose.

5. Breath sitali or sitkari pranayama for 2-3 minutes, gradually working up to a 10-minute practice.

Sitali pranayama adds moisture to the system and helps create awareness around breathing. It also reduces bad breath, fatigue, fever, and high blood pressure.

Satali pranayama is best done in hot weather or after a very heating physical practice. Sitali pranayama is not recommended during the winter months when the coldness of the air may bother the lungs, or for those with extreme vata (air) dosha imbalance.

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