Slow Down and Breathe
Yogis have been attempting to articulate the importance of pranayama for centuries, and the effort is still relevant because when a person starts yoga it doesn’t take long for them to realize its a breath centric practice which changes everything.
The practice of pranayama is an important observance by itself, but is often done in haste, as if a couple minutes at the beginning of class is sufficient warm-up for the real work of asana.
Patanjali wrote, by the right control of breath, we overcome ignorance. Breath work is a hallmark of the yogi’s intelligence, and control of breath is intimately linked to the yogi’s heightened awareness of biological and cosmic forces.
Approaches to Pranayama
It’s important to concentrate on breath or prana as a distinct activity with its own benefits and techniques as well as a guiding anchor for asana. Some yoga practices start with pranayama before asana while others pay attention to activating and sustaining ujaii breath throughout asana and pause occasionally to work on pranayama.
Another option is to end practice with a breathing set. But to fully activate the vital life force, central to building the foundation for yoga and life, attention to breath throughout must be paid.
Pranayama isn’t something to rush through in order to get to asana. One 80 year old man I know got the right idea after his first-ever yoga class at YOGA AND LEATHER: Yoga for Bikers. His replacement knees made it difficult for him to bend, and his large body ached, but he did the pranayama exercises – practicing inhale and exhale – while observing others do asana.… read more...