By Kimaya Singh, CYT 500
Pranayama - It’s just breathing, right? How much harm could a little more breathing possibly do?
You would be surprised. In some cases, we regard breathing simply as means to an end. It keeps us alive, and that is both the beginning and the end of its purpose.
On the other side of the coin, breath is a way of living. Neglecting ones breathing means a very contracted and painful existence.
There are certain ways to breathe that are very beneficial to the aspiring Yogi, and also those that will cause harm. It is vital that you teach and practice the former and not the latter. Below are three ways to practice proper breathing.
Let it be
The first and safest step is to just learn about your natural breath rhythm. Focus on your natural inhalations and let them become longer. Do the same thing on your exhalation. Practice drawing in the breath for fifteen seconds, then letting it release for the same amount of time. Practice this until you are comfortable with it.
There are many ways to do this, but it is best to just begin simply.
Close your eyes and inhale, allowing your lungs to completely fill. Then, take your thumb and block one nostril. Exhale. Repeat ten times. Then, do the same with the left nostril.
Also known as Bellows Breath, this one is more advanced and should only be done when the basic breathing has been mastered.
Sit comfortably and inhale while at the same time slowly raising your arms overhead. The completion of the inhalation should coincide with your arms becoming fully stretched.
Then, begin to exhale and form your hands into fists, stopping when you reach your shoulders. Complete your exhale. Repeat five times.
These three techniques will lay out a basic foundation. And like a foundation, it has to be built upon, yet can never be replaced. Always remember to practice the breath in a safe manner, never rushing through a session. Students want to hurry, so they can get to the Asana part of the practice. Remind them that breath is what makes Asana possible.
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