Anyone could practice unconscious shallow breathing, without any effort, but shallow breath is poor Pranayama, in its purest form. Smooth, structured, and coordinated breath, with a purpose, is not easy, for most of us, to master. Very few people breathe completely and as naturally as a baby, without formal Pranayama training or specialized athletic coaching.
Please bear in mind that proper breathing is important in every physical sport. The players of any sport or game, which requires physical endurance, will easily benefit from Pranayama practice. Therefore, Pranayama should be of extreme value to all athletes and anyone who wants to be in peak physical condition.
Yoga teachers should explain the many values Pranayama and of Hatha Yoga’s other aspects. Yoga teachers should not surrender the control of the class structure to students, who need direction.
Your value, as a Yoga teacher, is that you know the proper direction the class is going in, and why your Yoga class is going in a particular direction. You and your Yoga students should not lose sight of this fact. This would be similar to the pilot of a jetliner turning control over to the passengers, because of a change in altitude.
Although Yoga and martial arts differ, I will draw you a parallel, philosophical, and mental picture. Japanese is a very deep language, much like Sanskrit. Sometimes these two languages makes me think of jewelry boxes within a larger jewelry box.
Within the Japanese language, there is a word for teacher. We call him, or her, “sensei.” This literally means, “One who has been there before,” or “One who knows the way.”
The teacher is in a position of respect, because he or she knows the way. So, be careful not to abuse your Yoga students, as this will cause disrespect on both sides, but do not allow yourself to be abused because you are kind.
As many people acquire Yoga certification diplomas to become teachers, leadership skills are put to the test. If you know the way, your judgment should not be in question, and you deserve respect for the title of “Yoga teacher.”
How to mix Pranayama into a Yoga class
Instead of teaching Pranayama to Yoga students as a separate entity, it might be interesting to combine Pranayama, with mudras, for healing. Another option would be to change the pace of your Yoga class by focusing on one Pranayama technique for a few minutes between Vinyasa sequences or while holding asanas.
Lastly, do not forget, the Yoga student / Yoga teacher relationship should be friendly, and mutually respectful, but do not allow your kindness to be perceived as weakness. Unfortunately, some people do take advantage of kindness. Therefore, measure and dispense loving kindness carefully.
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