yoga trainingBy Faye Martins 

How much time did you spend on perfecting pranayama techniques during your yoga teacher certification course? Let’s face it; most trainers emphasize asana during a yoga instructor training. We could blame the trainer for the rest of our lives, but it is our responsibility to participate in continuing education and independent research. There are too many therapeutic benefits to be gained to ignore pranayama.

Application to Life Situations

When we get upset, we often say we need to stop and take a deep breath. In its simplest form, that’s what pranayama is. A healing art designed to control prana, or vital life energy, through breathing techniques, the practice of yoga breathing dates back to ancient Vedic texts.

An important part of spiritual traditions like qigong and Yoga for thousands of years, controlled breathing is now being proven effective by scientific research and is increasingly recommended by doctors as a complement to traditional medical care and as a method to reduce stress.

Whether caused by hurried lifestyles, physical ailments or personal belief systems, stress is not only a problem in itself; it is also a contributing factor in up to 80% of all doctor’s visits around the world. Regardless of the cause, tension causes us to take shallow breaths. Adrenaline floods our systems, our muscles tense, and our blood pressure increases.

In our computerized cultures, few of us have been taught how to breathe properly. As a result, we fail to use our lungs to their full capacity, neither taking in enough fresh oxygen nor eliminating the toxins stored in our bodies. We have trouble focusing our minds and completing our tasks, and our immune systems get weaker and more susceptible to illnesses.

Three Easy Pranayama Techniques

• Yogic Breathing consists of long, slow breaths that come from the bottom of the belly. It relaxes the mind and slows down the autonomic nervous system. 

• Left Nostril Breathing involves closing the right nostril with the thumb for up to 20 consecutive breaths. It is particularly effective for cooling feelings of anger and anxiety.

• Alternate Nostril Breathing, also known as round breathing, requires holding first one side of the nose and then the other while breathing in a circular pattern. Like the above-mentioned two types of pranayama, it calms the nervous system. It also helps to balance the right and left sides of the brain.

These techniques may be practiced individually or in any combination. The most important thing to remember is to stop or slow down when feeling lightheaded or dizzy. With a little experimentation and practice, everybody can find an individual routine that reduces stress and balances the mind.

As a yoga instructor, you should be a role model of moderation. Too much force doesn’t go well with yoga training.

© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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