Some interns and Yoga teacher trainers believe the heart and soul of Yoga is asana practice. This may be so in some fitness oriented Hatha Yoga styles, but it isn’t the case for all of Yoga. Many Yoga styles are designed for the maintenance of your mind on a spiritual, mental, and emotional level.
If you read the Yoga Sutras, you will find many Yogic principles. Among them are the Eight Limbs of Yoga, which are detailed by Patanjali. A very important Yogic principle is pranayama. Many people today do not breathe properly and have lost the ability of using their respiratory muscles and lungs correctly. This results in shallow high-chest breathing. Through faulty breathing the bloodstream is not being properly purified and oxygenated, nor can food be properly burned for energy use.
Therefore, breathing deeply has to be learned again, pranayama is the mastery of proper breathing. This means breathing fully and rhythmically using all of, not part of your lungs and therefore increasing the intake of oxygen, and at the same time removing stale air. Yogis feel that we should breathe air of the highest nutritional value, as it is our most essential food. Air is the most important resource that we absorb so therefore we should work towards achieving the maximum amount of inhalation and exhalation of air when we breathe.
Fifteen to twenty minutes a day should be spent on pranyama. This regular session increases vital capacity, energises and exercises the lungs, and respiratory muscles, oxygenates and purifies the bloodstream, removes phlegm, cleanses the sinuses and nerve channels, soothes and tones the nervous system, improves thoracic mobility and broadens the chest, improves digestion, massages the abdominal area.
Breathing correctly is a way of learning how to absorb extra oxygen and oxygenate the blood more efficiently Pranayama can be both calming and energizing depending on the type of breathing exercises performed. Control of the mental state, through calming and focusing the mind is attained through regular pranayama practice.
Until mankind learns that all of the limbs mentioned by Patanjali are important, Yoga certification courses and teacher trainers must get the message out. Thus, it is up to competent Yoga teachers to deflate the myth that asana alone is the only sacred Yogic practice.
© Copyright 2010 – Sanjeev Patel – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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