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How to teach yoga pranayama
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April 27, 2015
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January 19, 2013 - 11:55 pm
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How to Teach Yoga Students About Pranayama

Ask your students what Pranayama is. The majority of them will, without hesitation answer, "breathing." While this is true at the very basic meaning, it is not a full definition of what Pranayma truly is. If we go to someone to learn breathing, in our minds we think, "Well this will be easy, I've been breathing since I was born." Why learn to breathe? This could feel as if it is a waste of time to some.

However, the truth is that Pranayma is much more based on energy control through breathing. When students and fans of Hatha Yoga learn this it is usually much later in the classes, after they've perfected the poses and feel comfortable enough to explore. To their delight, including Pranayama in practice will enhance the poses and allow them to reap the full benefit of Hatha Yoga practice. In essence, it will give you more control.

Begin to Teach Pranayama

The very best way to teach Pranayama is separate from Asana. That is, completely on its own. It is important to stress to students what an important part of yoga it is, and perhaps dedicate one or two classes a month to it. Students should sit or lie down on their yoga mats. Stillness and quiet should be the focus, so students can focus on their inner being. Begin with deep and steady breathing; this allows students to become aware of the rhythm between the body, breath and mind. Corpse pose is perfect for this, with arms to the side and palms facing upward. Instruct students to even out their naturally erratic breaths into slow, and calculated breaths.

Next, focus on completely filling the lungs, and the emptying them. Most do not use all of their lung capacity when breathing normally. To help, gently place your hands on your rib cage, until you feel the entire length of your rib cage moving you are not fully using your lungs. There should be no gasping for air, or shortness of breath. It should all feel completely natural. After mastering this, you can move onto things like the Victorious Breath, bhandas, rest patterns and more.


There are some safety procedures for practicing pranayama. There should never be any rush, breathing exercises should not be too repetitive, and it should be gentle. If at anytime one complains of dizziness they should stop and relax.


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March 10, 2015 - 7:04 pm
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What Should Yoga Teachers Know About Pranayama? Yoga also contains some of the most famous forms of relaxation and meditation, but for some the only intriguing part of this physical and mental activity is its overwhelming poses. But in reality yoga is not only about the elegant asanas it is more about leading you to the subconscious mind and to the profound states of relaxation. The basic need of yoga is to control breath. Pranayama is an exercise that helps in regulating the breathing process. The word pranayama is composed of two word "prana" which means energy or breath if we dig deeper into its meaning then prana is used to the reflect the pranic force of life whereas "ayama" means to regulate or to control. It is said that one can regulate his/her pranic energy by performing pranayama.

As people find yoga asanas highly stimulating and overpowering similarly some have strong attraction towards pranayama too, for acquiring peace and tranquility. Pranayama is a process associated with deep breathing and if students during the practice session are unaware of how to perform correct procedure of inhalation and exhalation, a teacher is the person who provides proper instructions and guidance to them. Therefore it is essential for a skilled and qualified instructor to have comprehensive knowledge of breath techniques and benefits with detailed study of performing different types of breathing procedure in combination with asanas and meditational approaches. Those students who follow inactive lifestyle should be advised to perform asana to tune their body first whereas the ones who are active and lead a healthy lifestyle can directly start with the controlled breath poses.

There are several different types of pranayama that can be practiced; some of them are listed below:

Rhythmic Breathing: This type of breathing is a very easy practice for the beginners; any person regardless of what age group he/she belongs can perform it. Rhythmic breathing helps in setting foundation for the practitioners used to shallow breathing. This type of breathing is essential as it benefits the nervous system by soothing and releasing anxiety and tension. It also assists in gaining focus and concentration.

Alom Vilom: Alom Vilom is also known as nadi shodhana, it requires breathing through alternate nasal cavities, and this is an ideal practice to maintain a healthy heart.

Kapalabhati: This type of breathing can also called as skull shining breath. This technique has lots of health advantages; it helps in regulating the blood circulation and is really beneficial for those who are suffering from asthma. When kapalabhati is practiced too often then it cause headache and dizziness.

Agnisar: Agnisar is very advantageous for the digestive issues, it does not only cure the digestive issue but also helps in cutting down the extra belly fat along with maintaining the metabolic rate of the body.

Bhastrika: Bhastrika breathing is helpful in curing ailments like obesity and arthritis; it helps in maintaining the good appetite yet it curtails the extra fat keeping the body slim and fit.

Surya Bhedi Pranayama: It is performed to provide warmth to the body helps in stimulating the nerves that are controlled by the sun. It is an ideal anti aging technique, which also assist in detoxifying the blood and providing adequate amount of energy.

Ujjayi: As the name indicates, while performing this approach a loud sound is produced because Ujj means out loud, this type of pranayama helps in improving the blood circulation and should be advised to be performed by the practitioners suffering from lung diseases.

Shitali: It should be ideally preformed in summers as it cools down the body and satisfies the thirst. It is highly effective as it helps in purifying the blood and makes the practitioner look fresh and beautiful. It also plays an important role in curing indigestion, fever and helps in decreasing the effect of poison after snakebite.
Bhramri: This is essential to achieve melodious voice, while performing this asana the practitioner produces a humming sound similar to that of a bee while exhaling. It is essential for making the vocal cords strong and to make the sound more melodious and pleasant. It also helps in increasing the concentrating power.


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October 21, 2015 - 5:25 pm
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There is another aspect of pranayama that is valuable for teachers and interns to know. Safety protocols for pranayama are just as important for practice as they are for asana practice. You might think: How can poor paranayama practice cause health problems?

The ancient therapy of yoga offers magical effects on human wellness both physically and mentally only when practitioner followed all sequences and procedures correctly with accurate body placement and breathe control under the guidance of a competent trainer.

The techniques of paranayama are not just exercises related to inhalation and exhalation; these exercises can directly influence constellation of energy or control of prana in human body and mind. During performing paranayama techniques the rhythmic pattern of breathing generates lots of energy and this excessive energy tries to flow in network of channels without any obstacle. When these techniques are not properly performed may result in causing hindrance or obstruction in excessive flow of energy in channels produced during paranayama breathing and leads to many health related disorders or side effects like headache, dizziness, lethargy, nausea, worsening of asthma or breathing difficulty, excessive perspiration, salivation, reduction in immunity, blurred vision, psychological imbalance, digestive disorder, body and backache etc. Therefore it is necessary for students to practice breathing procedures with the assistance of an able teacher with regular performance of different types of internal or external breath retention to cleanse energy pathways.

All these above mentioned health issues take place due to various factors during poor paranayama practice. It is recommended that these breathing patterns should not be practiced with unstable or upset mind and with depressed mood. It is better to quit paranayama exercises for that day when anyone experiences lack of calmness. Always prefer a quieter, peaceful and well ventilated environment during practice because it will helpful in concentrating and calming mind. Sometimes sitting in wrong posture may lead to irregular flow of positive energy through body channels causing health problems. Overdoing of breathing procedures or performing advance level breathing at initial stage and holding up of breath for long time may cause “Vata” to go wrong. The paranayama techniques with deep internal breath retention should be avoided for practitioners suffering from severe health conditions or chronic diseases. In place of demanding exercises those practitioner should perform easy and simple Anuloma Viloma breathing.

It is also suggested that do not try to perform the breathing exercises when feeling very hungry or soon after eating meal because it may end up with hurting Kapha, Pitta and Vata or serious digestive tract problems. Do not start running or do hurried activities just after completing paranayama practice, this may cause bodily imbalance try to relax in same position for at least 7-10 minutes performing meditation, prayers or thinking about daily chores. An important key point should always be kept in mind that while practicing paranayama it is essential to perform only those exercises that are suitable according to your own health condition and body requirements. If wrong type of sequence is practiced it may harm internal body systems because all exercises are not appropriate for every individual.

Following are some safety measures that should help in preventing health issues due to paranayama practice,

It is suggested for people suffering from heart disease, high blood pressure and hernia to avoid kapalbhati and bhastrika techniques, beginners are advised to perform these exercises in a gentle manner without using any excessive force.

Shitkari and chandrabhedi breathing should be avoided in winters whereas suryabhedi in summer season.

Agnisar paranayama should not be practiced by those who have hypertension and hernia problems or after having any abdominal surgery.  


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April 6, 2016 - 12:24 pm
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How to Apply Paranayama to Real Life Situations? Oxygen is vital for human being to survive; people that are accustomed to performing yoga often are seen praising the art of deep breathing and its benefits. All yogis are acquainted with the concept that deep breathing is prana i.e. the energy required by the body. Lack of oxygen leads straight to death, breathing itself is an abundant source of nourishment for human body. It is a cure of several ailments and helps in getting rid of anxiety, depression and stress that body deals with on the daily basis while living a fast paced life. Some of the very important benefits of deep breathing are listed below.

One Solid Energizer: As mentioned above paranayama techniques provide life force vital energies in body and it has been scientifically proven that deep breathing also helps in improving energy channels.

Stress and Digestion: Paranayama breathing helps in reducing stress, it aids in activating central nervous system as oxygen reaches the brain it automatically assists in getting rid of built up tension and stress, not only that but oxygen is helpful when it comes to digestion as well. Those who are suffering from problems like bloating, poor digestion and intestinal issues can actually get advantage from deep breathing.

Focus and attention: There are several benefits of performing paranayama and one of them is that it helps in focusing and staying attentive. It has been recommended that slow and profound breathing facilitate human body to concentrate and listen to their inner self.

Detoxification: Oxygen is indeed one of the best detoxifying agent, as we breathe deeply the lungs become cleaner which leads to the improvement in the lymphatic flow, helping in strengthening immunity system and making body stronger by protecting it from the virus and bacteria present in the environment.

Visceral Health: We all have studied in our biology class that our red blood cells provide oxygen to all the organs hence breathing deeply helps in providing abundant amount of oxygen to the human organs improving their function and activity.

Emotional balance: Beside all the above-mentioned physical aspects and benefits of paranayama. It has been studied and proven that this approach has direct relation to one’s emotional balance, while in panic or in emergency we have a natural reflex to constrain our breathing that results in the physical rigidity which is really harmful for our bodies. That is why most of yoga instructors teach their students to stay calm and take long deep breaths in an emergency or dreadful situation because when our breathing pattern loses its rhythm due to any stress or anxiety many problems occur, dangerous for both mind and body.

Hence, it is concluded that paranayama is an exclusive foundation of Patanjali’s yoga sutra as the entire practice of yoga starts off with paranayama and ends with deep breathing. Students are guided to maintain a resting pose and concentrate on the breathing in the end. It is very evident that yoga is not about mastering the breathing pattern but to open one’s self to nature and improve energy levels.

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