“Pranayama has slowly pried open some of the tighter places in my body and so provided me with new openings in my asana practice. This, in turn, affects my breathing and, so on and so on, asana and pranayama oscillating back and forth to each other’s advantage.” – Richard Rosen
Pranayama or breath control is defined by B.K.S Iyengar as: “… techniques to make the respiratory organs move and expand intentionally, rhythmically and intensively. It consist of long, sustained subtle flow of inhalation, exhalation and retention of breath.”
With the guidance of some of the world’s wisest yoga teachers, I have made it my quest to incorporate pranayama into my practice. Breaking down the art of breathing into separate stages has helped me to gradually meld it into my daily yoga routine. Over the next few weeks, I will share my personal journey towards pranayama with you. Here are the four main categories we will explore:
#1: Creating Breath Awareness – Pay attention to the texture, quality and the places that your body breathes. When do you hold your breath? Where are you breathing? Can you relax enough to allow the body to breathe you?
#2 Opening the Body for the Breath– Using the postures of yoga to literally expand the muscles of the body that directly affect the breath: the diaphragm, the intercostals and other muscles of the abdomen, pelvis and chest. Supine Restorative postures are the key here.
#3 Extending the Breath – This is the stage when you begin to manipulate the breath. Applying the various methods of pranayama, you learn to lengthen the inhalation, exhalation and the pauses between. In the end, the object is to expand the level of oxygen within your body to boost circulation, digestion, and the function of your nervous, endocrine, muscular and reproductive systems.
#4 Simply Sitting – Learning to sit comfortably takes the art of pranayama to a new level. Seated breath control brings awareness to your everyday life. When your body learns to breathe fully in a seated position, you can move air more completely and efficiently all day long.
Over the next few weeks, I will give you the details and incentive to build a more thorough yoga practice by embracing the beauty of the breath! Stay tuned…