Part of my homework this week was to teach my students some pranayama. We focused on the three part breath. We started with the belly breath, then moved the breath up into the ribs, then into the upper chest. Once we had felt the breath in all these areas we put it all together and did the three part breath (dirga-pranayama). I wasn’t sure how my students would take to this especially since we spent around 15 minutes of a very short 45 minute class breathing but they all seemed okay with it. The general consensus was that it was relaxing but a few mentioned a little bit of an odd feeling focusing on the breath so much. I remember when I first started doing pranayama I felt the same. It was actually quite difficult to take deep full breaths. It almost hurt… like I was overstretching some muscles with those really deep breaths. Now I love it, especially breath retention on the exhale. There is something very peaceful about letting all the air out of my lungs and then just sitting there for a moment without any in or out breath.
I will leave you with a few of my favourite quotes on Pranayama…
If the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still, and the yogi achieves long life. Therefore, one should learn to control the breath. ~Svatmarama Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God. ~Krishnamacharya