Tracey L. Kelley
Innnhaaaallle and Exhaaaaaale
Updated: Apr 27, 2020
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