“Breath is the king of mind.” ~B.K.S. Iyengar
B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the yoga teachers credited with bringing yoga to the West taught that pranayama was more advanced than asana. In his classes, he instructed his students to master the physical postures prior to attempting pranayama techniques. Pranayama allows you to sink into deeper meditation. A well-rounded yoga practice includes asana, pranayama, and meditation.
What is Pranayama? Pranayama is the practice of extending and regulating your prana or life force. Simply by focusing on mindful breathing, we can learn to change the way we feel physically, mentally, and emotionally. Simply by utilizing different techniques, you can calm your nervous system, boost your energy, quiet your mind, and soothe your emotions. Pranayama gives you the ability to manage your prana.
You’re likely familiar with some of the Pranayama practices your favorite yoga teachers use in class. If you’re a Vinyasa yoga student, you’re familiar with Ujjayi breath where you inhale and exhale through the nose with a slight constriction in the back of your throat. Ujjayi is an excellent tool to maintain awareness and quiet a distracted mind and warms you up from the inside out.
If you’re feeling overheated and need to cool off, Sitali pranayama is the technique that will assist you. Sitali breath is inhaling through the mouth with your tongue curved and exhaling through the nose for at least five rounds. It looks and feels kind of silly, but it works!
Two other techniques used in many yoga classes are: Kapalabhati and Alternate-Nostril Breathing. Kapalabhati pranayama or “Skull Cleansing” Breath utilizes rapid forceful nostril exhales to energize the entire body and clear the mind. It’s a perfect practice when you’re feeling stagnant and heavy. Alternate-Nostril Breathing is just what it sounds like––controlling the breath by closing one nostril at a time and imparts a feeling of balance and clarity.
This week’s classes are specifically designed with yoga, pranayama, and meditation to remind you about the importance of mindful breathing. Each class is suitable for students new to Pranayama techniques as well as for advanced yogis. So if you’re ready to impact the way you’re feeling fast––here you go!
Pause & Breathe: Dirgha Pranayama - Jackie Casal Mahrou
Meditation: Mindfulness of Breath - Shy Sayar
A Fresh Breath - Kristin Gibowicz
Pranayama: Kapalabhati - Pradeep Teotia
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