Sunday, January 31, 2016

Pranayama and Meditation in a Yoga Class

about pranayama in a yoga class
By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed 

Recently, I was reading an article that is posted on the website of a well-known spiritual teacher about the state of harmony, or "niscintata" in Sanskrit. The Sanskrit concept of niscintata encompasses a balanced and equal state of harmony, both with oneself and with one's surroundings. This is a tall order, to be sure! In our fast-paced culture today, living in a balanced state of harmony with oneself and one surroundings is usually not on the top of the priority list. 

Generally speaking, most of us prioritize our time in such a way so that we are able to meet our personal and professional goals in an efficient manner. Although it is admirable to be able to pick your children up from school on time, pay a mortgage payment by the due date each month or complete a task that your boss has given you in a timely and efficient manner, if you do so in such a way that your well being is compromised, an enormous variety of health problems may develop over time. 




The traditional emphasis on living in harmony with oneself and one's environment has the ability to reestablish a sense of being grounded and at peace in both your body and mind. If you are teaching Yoga classes on a regular basis, you will probably have noticed that many of your students come into class in a rushed and harried fashion. This is usually due to the fact that many of your students have a lot to juggle on a daily basis. 

As a certified Yoga teacher, you are in a particularly advantageous position to help nurture a state of harmony in the lives of your students, both on and off the mat. As you are probably aware, moving systematically through a balanced sequence of Yoga postures on a regular basis helps to release tension, strengthen the body and calm the mind. When you add the practice of the traditional breathing practices of Yoga into the context of your classes, the energizing, balancing and centering effects of the practice increases exponentially. 

In addition, if you structure your Yoga classes in order to allow 5 - 10 minutes at the conclusion of the physical practice of the postures for your students to rest in the calm center of their being through the practice of meditation, you will be substantially nurturing a state of inner harmony. Practicing pranayama exercises prior to meditation will help your students to be able to meditate more easily. Pranayama, or Yogic breathing exercises, can be practiced either at the beginning of a class or at the end of class, just prior to meditation and Shavasana. 




Ujjayi Pranayama, or Ocean Sounding Breath, is often practiced in conjunction with the flow of the physical postures, particularly in vinyasa-style Yoga classes. If your students correctly practice Ujjayi Pranayama, the right and left hemispheres of the brain will become more balanced, and they will experience a calm, energized sense of well being at the end of your class. By linking together the practice of pranayama with meditation, your Yoga students will be much more able rest in a state of awareness that is free from mental agitation and worry. 

For instance, practicing Alternate Nostril Breathing, or Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, will profoundly help to balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain, as the body and mind are soothingly calmed and grounded in the present moment. By leading your students through the practice of Alternate Nostril Breathing for 3-5 minutes prior to engaging in meditation, the fluctuating thought waves of their minds would be quelled. If all goes well, they will experience an absence of mental agitation, at least for a few moments at a time, which can ultimately pave the way for the experience of profound inner peace. 

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York, where she works as a writer and an academic support specialist. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: enchantress108@gmail.com.

© Copyright 2016 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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2 comments:

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parvezbdjsr said...

By linking together the practice of pranayama with meditation, the Yoga students will be much more able rest in a state of awareness that is free from mental agitation and worry. Thanks for sharing this valuable article.