Introduction to Pranayama, part 4

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Though many pranayama techniques are not that difficult physically, sustaining a practice and developing the mind can be tricky. Here are six pointers for getting started, and for improving, sustaining, and deepening your practice.

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Steadiness of body: The body must be comfortably motionless for a prolonged period of time, and yet support alertness, breath control, and mental focus. Asana practice is essential for pranayama, partly because it’s nearly impossible to maintain a balanced, still, comfortable sitting posture for any length of time without it. Just as importantly, asana activates and integrates the flow of prana, helps us develop the capacity to direct prana with bandhas (energy locks), trains the body to breathe diaphragmatically, and develops sensitivity to inner states of being. Preferred sitting postures for pranayama are sukhasana (easy pose), svastikasana (auspicious pose), and padmasana (lotus pose), but sitting on a chair is also an option.

Diaphragmatic breathing: Just as your sitting posture is the foundation for the body in pranayama practice, diaphragmatic breathing is the foundation for the breath. This is where deliberate training of the breath begins in earnest. Don’t assume that because you have been practicing yoga for years, you are breathing diaphragmatically. Our breathing patterns are typically subconscious—controlled by persistent habits that are out of our awareness.

Balanced lifestyle: Avoid too much or too little food, too much or too little sleep, and too much or too little mental and physical activity. Be regular in your lifestyle habits. A fresh, nourishing diet is particularly important.

Mental/emotional stability: emotional balance: “To get the benefit of pranayama, you must be steady in thought, speech, and action. Without some measure of contentment in life, pranayama brings misery.”

Regularity: In general, the benefits of yoga accrue from consistent, systematic practice for long periods of time. “If one practices pranayama continuously for a year, he is sure to attain wisdom,” writes Swami Rama, a modern master who demonstrated extraordinary control over his body’s autonomic functions. “With regulation of the breath,” he continues, “karma acquired both in this life and in the past may be burnt up.”

Inner focus: Success in yoga depends on this. Becoming sensitive to the flow of breath, the subtlety of the breath, and finally the suspension of the breath, leads you to awareness of the force behind the breath—prana. Awareness of prana is the thread that links you to deeper states of mental awareness, independent of the physical body and the senses. This is the beginning of mastering the mind.

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to be continued…

 

Love and Light!

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About oksanawd

Namaste, My name is Oksana Wadhawan and I am originally from Kiev, Ukraine. I presently reside in Mumbai, India, with my husband since October, 2014. I started doing Yoga from 2007 in Cyprus. I was reading a lot of literature on meditation and asanas, trying to do home practice. I was lucky enough that I didnt get injured through my home practice. I started learning Yoga from 2009 (Hot Yoga and Iyengar Yoga) in Kiev, Ukraine. After 3 years of learning, I commenced the yoga teacher’s training course in YogaHot Centre, Kiev, Ukraine (2012). I became a certified yoga teacher and began practicing master classes of Iyengar yoga from 2012. My classes were taught by great Iyengar teachers such as Igor Podmazin, Irina Korovina, Oksana Bogush and many others. In 2013 and 2014, I also went on a 7 day Camp to Yoga Institute, Santacruz, Mumbai, India. I studied Ashtanga Yoga with Lesley Fightmaster in 2013-2015. My teaching experience includes 2 years of Hot yoga, 1 year of Ashtanga yoga and 1 year of Restorative Yoga or Yin Yoga. I am regularly attending and practicing Iyengar Yoga since 2009. As a teacher, I conducted a yoga retreat for a month in Kiev, Ukraine (May, 2015) where I shared my daily experience and knowledge with my students on asanas, pranayama and meditation. In August 2015, I did my first retreat in Goa, India. I believe in words of K. Pattabhi Jois "Do your practice and all is coming." Its slowly coming for me! I learn and experience through my body, my emotions, my pain, my enlightenment, what it is Yoga! Yoga is my way of life! And I can show you a way that Yoga can be your way of life as well))) Love and Light!

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