Pranayama Breathing Exercises

Pranayama Exercises

Lisa Filips

The past two weeks, I’ve explored all of the breathing exercises and a few of them are very new to me.  I’m a creature of habit and tend to gravitate towards what I am most comfortable with.  Through this exploration, I have some very vivid memories of when I first started with Bikram yoga and how my least favorite poses in that series were the beginning and ending breathing exercises.  I remember it taking me almost three months of class to finally understand and ‘get’ the Ujjayi breathing that starts class.  And, the final breathing exercise of Kapalabhati had me using the wrong stomach muscles on the inhale and exhale for several weeks.  It was not until an instructor paid close enough attention to me individually and corrected me that I realized I was doing it wrong.  Once corrected, it was amazing how much easier and better the exercise felt in my body and mind.  Prior to this, it was stressful and I did not realize how much so. This got me to thinking about how difficult some of the postures and breathing exercises can be, especially for a beginner.  As we all continue our yoga practice, we don’t want to introduce stress in a yoga class; but this can happen without even knowing it if a new asana or breathing exercise is tried.  I’ll have to remember this as important lesson for classes once I start teaching.  Always return to your own journey and put yourself in the student’s shoes.  From there, I think you can only become a better person and better teacher.  On this path for teacher training, this reminds me of how important the little things can be, even for a seasoned student.  We all tend to gravitate towards what is comfortable and breathing exercises are no exception.  So, as I explored these styles, my immediate thought would be that of a new student or any student for that matter.  How I queue, explain, explore and most importantly discuss the benefits will be very critical.

In my own personal practice, what I once hated is now my favorite.  I just love the six second inhale and six second exhale associated with Ujjayi breathing.  I find myself doing this daily at my desk while at work.  While the exhale is such a release in a Bikram class, even during the day and quietly doing this at my desk, the focus on six seconds is such a stress reliever.  When you truly focus on the breath, it’s just amazing how much deeper you breathe, how you truly clear your mind of all useless thought and how your body responds with such a sense of relief.  It’s literally a cleanse for the system, or that is how my body reacts to it. 

I need to practice more styles of breathing, so my goal after this assignment is to make the other now uncomfortable and unfamiliar exercises like Sitali more a part of my own practice.  This way, what is now uncomfortable for me can become something that I love. 

Lisa KanneComment