Recently, a Yoga teacher contacted me with the problem of students who have closed their minds to the benefits of Pranayama. She teaches classes in her own Yoga studio and has a very warm relationship with all of her students.
To give you a little background on this teacher and her class: She teaches a Vinyasa style Hatha Yoga class with Ujjayi Pranayama synchronized into her flows.
She starts with a brief five to ten minute meditation before postures, but she has a five to ten minute Pranayama segment before the conclusion of her Vinyasa Yoga class.
One of her more radical students has decided to publicly challenge the value of Pranayama in her Yoga classes - stating that, “You do not have to be a rocket scientist to learn how to breathe. ” Some of her students have decided to “follow the leader” and are leaving before Pranayama starts.
What is the Real Value of Pranayama?
Mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional, quality of life is the biggest benefit of Pranayama practice and here are two, of the many, reasons why.
1. Physical Health: If you do not take the time to breathe correctly, your blood circulation will slow down - while your blood vessels constrict, leaving you with less oxygen in your bloodstream. The end result is irritability, anxiety, irregular or rapid pulse, muscle tension, and an inability to handle life’s daily stressful situations.
2. Consciousness: Sometimes we refer to forms of consciousness as concentration, mindfulness, and meditation. Whichever way you look at it, Pranayama is the gateway to the mind and body connection. Pranayama brings you into the moment; and without it, we are not practicing any form of Yoga.
The Traditional Yoga Teacher
When I first entered an ashram to learn Yoga, it was much similar to my first entrance into a “dojo” (training hall), to learn martial arts. The ashram is also a traditional place, and the Guru or Yoga teacher has control of the lesson plan.
As a student of Yoga, from a martial arts background, I never questioned this foundation. If a Yoga student does not agree with the structure of a class, he or she can always find another Yoga class.
Yet, it does make a Yoga teacher wonder what a student is looking for. From a pure exercise perspective, Pranayama is the most important of all physical exercises, because you will not live long without it.
© Copyright 2007 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center, in Attleboro, MA. http://www.riyoga.com He has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995. To receive a Free e-Book: “Yoga in Practice, " and a Free Yoga Newsletter, please visit: http://www.yoga-teacher-training.org/index.html