Pranayama is a key part of my yoga classes. And after a couple of classes most of the students get it, or at least go with the flow. Sometimes there are students in a class (new to yoga, or new to the way I teach my classes) that don’t get it. They sit there, play with their toes, look around them, jawn, looking bored, … Often I think how great it would be to be able to teach each new student a private class to explain the importance of Pranayama and to teach them the exercises that I was taught in my different TTC’s.
In short, Pranayama (Sanskrit: प्राणायाम ) is one of the 5 points of yoga: proper breathing. It teaches us to control our breathing, to control our minds and meditate easier. ‘Prana’ means : subtle energy, life force or vital energy. ‘Ayama’ means: to extend or draw out.
“Pranayama uses breathing techniques to influence the flow of prana in the nadis or energy channels of the energy body (Pranayama kosha).” -> From the book: Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
In today’s world, people often don’t breathe properly, meaning, they breathe in the top parts of their lungs only. You may notice this when you are stressed out or when sitting with hunched shoulders in front of your PC. As soon as you lie on your back and try to breathe deeply in through the nose into the abdomen, you will realize the force of proper breathing: you will quickly feel more energized, more calm. Personally I found Pranayama to be life-changing. One day without my morning Pranayama exercises shows me directly the need for it. I am more calm, focused & in the present moment when I practice breathing exercises in the morning.
What does Pranayama teach us? It teaches us to breathe properly, to use the full capacity of the lungs, to draw more freshly oxygen in & more stale air out of our body. This gives more oxygen to the cells, including the brain.
If you are new to yoga, try to just follow the explanations and the counting of the breathing exercises, try not to judge (yourself, other students, the teacher) as hopefully you’ll soon become aware of the subtle changes in your breathing and your life thanks to the benefits of these exercises.