Innnhaaaallle and Exhaaaaaale
Updated: Apr 27
Don'tcha love it when your teacher says this repeatedly during class?
Oh, but it's important!
In all my current classes, we learn one new breathing technique for every 5-week series. Calming, energizing, cleansing--each one is different, allowing an individual to build a repertoire of applications for whenever they need them.
What I love is each person stays open-minded and gives every technique a try, even if it's not initially a favorite. But in this way, they develop a deeper understanding of how focused breath affects them and why this matters.
Sometimes it's challenging to communicate why we need to practice breathing, of all things. I rely on a standard statement: there's a reason why you should take 10 deep breaths when you feel anxious, upset, or stressed,. Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan provides a wonderful explanation, as well as some additional breathing techniques.
In the Yoga Sutras, pranayama is one of the Eight Limbs of Yoga--prana means "life force" - the vital energy that is the body and mind. Pranayama isn't secondary to asana, or postures: it stands alone as the next level of progression in a consistent yoga practice.
For many people, aspects of breath don't really matter in yoga. They want to move and sweat and feel they did something after 60 minutes. I understand. My philosophy is simple: yoga is nothing without breath. So make the most of it.
Here are some interesting quotes about breath to reflect upon:
Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. ~Thích Nhất Hạnh
When I stopped to pay attention to where my breathing was deep and settled, the truth began to emerge from the mist. ~Betsy Cañas Garmon
The practice is simply this: keep coming back to your breath during the day. Just take a moment. This will give your mind a steadiness and your breath a gracefulness....There’s so much to let go of, isn’t there? Your nostalgia and your regrets. Your fantasies and your fears. What you think you want instead of what is happening right now. Breathe. ~Rodney Yee
Yoga breathing control or pranayama is a joyful song that soothes, purifies, energizes, and harmonizes our body, mind, and soul to create inner healing. So, practice singing the song of pranayama. ~Debasish Mridha