By Paul Jerard

Pranayama is possibly the most overlooked aspect of Hatha Yoga. Every Yoga teacher training course includes a significant segment about Pranayama. Although B.K.S. Iyengar wrote detailed works on the subject, some Hatha Yoga teachers barely scratch the surface on the subject of cultivating vital energy through breathing. Why is this happening in Yoga classes?

Proper breathing is most likely the most important physical aspect of Hatha Yoga training. Yes, proper breathing is more important than fancy Asanas. Should this lack of attention to the importance of Pranayama, within the Yoga class, be corrected by those groups who certify Yoga teachers? Why do some educated, and competent, Yoga teachers “skip by” Pranayama during a Yoga class?

When an intern goes through his or her Yoga teacher training, the teacher trainer does cover many Pranayama techniques. For many Yoga teacher interns, this is a review. Each intern, who becomes a Yoga teacher, knows in detail the value of proper breathing, but when a Yoga teacher graduate goes out into the world, he or she finds that the student audience wants to learn “fancy tricks.”

This performance of fancy tricks has taken on a whole new identity and has become “advanced Yoga” in the minds of those who forget that Yoga is for the union of mind, body, and spirit. At no time is the ego part of any union.

The ego does not want to share anything. The ego wants everything, especially credit for beauty, material rewards, and feats of strength or flexibility. This is the reason why some beginner students are “bored” by Pranayama.

However, without Pranayama, we are not practicing Hatha Yoga. Therefore, students at all levels should learn all of the aspects of Hatha Yoga. The reason is simple: Hatha Yoga is not a gymnastics event.

Gymnastics is a wonderful sport, but if that is what a Yoga student wants, he or she should pursue that path. The fact is – Yoga is not a sport. Although Hatha Yoga is physical, it has many components, and all of them should be presented with the same enthusiasm as impressive physical feats.

Hatha Yoga teachers should still take the time to explain the laws of Prana to new students. Prana is more than just air, but proper breathing is the best method for cultivating it. If a new student has difficulty grasping the theory or philosophy of Prana, and Pranayama, at least he or she will learn how to absorb extra oxygen and oxygenate the blood much more efficiently.

For all of us, air is the most important resource we absorb. Water and food are also significant, but none of us will last long without air.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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