By Samantha Grayson, CYT
Many Yoga certification courses outside of India omit the Eight Limbs of Yoga in their training. Some of these graduates may not learn anything about meditation, yama, niyama, pranayama or Patanjali. You may learn 20 to 30 asanas and become a Yoga teacher.
After spending a lot of money with one yoga teacher training facility, I learned just 28 postures and nothing else. To skip by pranayama and meditation is not Yoga. It is a stretch exercise class only.
About Pranayama: When we are born we breathe deeply naturally, but as we grow into adults our breathing becomes shallow and we cannot purify our body through breath. Breathing is one of the ways the body receives prana and cleans the body. Small shallow breaths don’t allow the body to receive and store prana or remove toxins from the body.
The four stages of breathing are Inhalation or puraka, Pause in breathing called kumbhaka, exhalation or rechaka and again a pause in breathing with empty lungs, bahya kumbhaka. All stages should be continuous and evenly controlled. Special attention should be made during rechaka to be sure all the air is expelled form the body during exhalation.
If old air is left in the body the ability to take in new air during puraka is severely hampered. Pranayama is a method for using these four stages in controlling your breathing to a rhythm, instead of working on autopilot. Control is the key to learning to make manual breathing slow, comfortable and receive the maximum benefit. In time, with practice breathing with four parts can calm the nervous system free a person from anxiety, fear and negative emotions. This tranquility can be carried in yoga poses and also into daily life.
According to Dr. Behanan: The chief purpose of yogic breathing is – to increase the consumption of oxygen with the minimum of physical exertion, under conditions probably favorable for the storage of oxygen. James Hewitt, the author of “The Complete Yoga Book,” found this explanation so important that he used italics to emphasize his point. Breathing in Yoga varies from other forms of exercise in that it increases consumption of oxygen and therefore creates energy without large amounts of physical exercise or use of that energy.
Pranayama can also be practiced for healing. Much like a battery that has been depleted, the body running on little, or no, energy cannot renew cells, or fight disease. A body that is a fully charged can renew itself better and disease doesn’t have a chance to take root. Also a fully charged body in an experienced yogi can transfer some of their prana to another in need. This allows the Yoga practitioner to recover more quickly and heal faster.
Samantha Grayson is a certified Yoga teacher.