Tuesday, August 03, 2010

How often do you practice pranayama?

How often do you practice pranayama?

Or a bit more precise: Each time when I practice Ashtanga yoga.
I do ujjayi breathing (re wikepedia this is the correct spelling) when I practice the Ashtanga series, I use the glottis in a way that I can hear a sound when I inhale and when I exhale. I make inhaling and exhaling equally long. Between exhaling and inhaling is a little pause. I do not hold the breath. I match the breathing with the movement. I observe the breath.

It is a good start of my yoga practice to practice consciously ujjayi breathing before the first surya namaskara A. It gives me the rhythm of the practice. I do this as a daily habit. It is how I start. After a few ujjayi breathings I add the movements and then my yoga practice has started.

Somtimes I practice pranayama (ujjayi breathing) without practicing asanas. I sit down in lotus pose and I exercise ujjayi breathing for 5 min. Not longer. This I do not so often, but it makes sense to do this more often especially if you are a beginner and when you have difficulties with this breathing.

In India a pranayama teacher and doctor taught me alternate nostril breathing. I want to do this more often. Sometimes I do it, it feels always great when I do it. Yeah, but I have so much to do........which is great. My days are full of action. Not everything fits into my day.

Best order: asanas, pranayama, meditation. (from rough to subtle)
PS: pranayama is not dangerous. The only reasonable warning that I have heard is: when you suffer from high blood pressure, don't hold your breath for a long time (retention).
Tip from my Indian pranayama teacher: Go till your capacity, but not beyond.

Picture: Happy cows at Herzogstand without breahting problems. The air is fantastic in the Alps.

Pranayama à la B.K.S. Iyengar:


divya said...

Hi U,
This blog was so so good and motivating that I read it twice. I too have wriiten my version of the answers to your questions in my blog, please let me know your opinion.
I learnt so much from your blog ...

Marina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bindifry said...

i was taught that pranayama includes kumbhaka. that means retention. which you do not do during yoga asana. i was also taught (lino miele & dena kingsberg) that the 4 pranayama exercises-they are listed in the back of lino's first book & should be passed on intimately from teacher to student-are done before asana.
i was taught the first 3 & do them before i practice & at sundown. it only takes me 15 minutes.

it's SO important to me that if i lack time, i eliminate some asanas-NOT the pranayama. i will also do the first one before teaching because it calms me after my long bike ride to the class.

Ursula said...

Hi bindfry,
Thank you for your comment, it is always good to hear different views.
Nevertheless I do not agree:
1. There are pranayama techniques that do not have retention (holding the breath) as part of the breathing technique. Kapalapati is such a pranayama technique i.e.
2. Nothing is nowadays passed on secretly. As soon as something is published and communicated via a book, it is not secret anymore. I haven't heard so far (but I do not hear everyhing) that any pranayama technique is taught in Mysore these days.
3. 15 min daily is a lot of time.

But this is our own practice. We explore ourselves with it. What is good for one person needn't to be good for another. And what was good in the beginning of learning a series can change after a few years.

I think your comment inspires to explore oneself and to see what is good. Best coach is our own practice

bindifry said...

i never said "secretly." just passed on by your teacher who feels you are ready-usually after completion of intermediate series. you sit with your teacher & they do it with you over a period of time, just like guruji used to do when the shala had 12 students at a time.

15 minutes is nothing compared to the hours of benefit in the mind & the body.
we agree to disagree. more pranayama, more sitting, less asana the older we get. just a fact. but you might be super young-i'm almost 45 & for me, it's the natural course of my yoga path. i do not practice the 4th pranayama because my teacher has not given it to me.

according to wiki-this is what pranayama means

Pranayama (Sanskrit: प्राणायाम prāṇāyāma) is a Sanskrit word meaning "restraint of the prana or breath" or more accurately, "control of force". The word is composed of two Sanskrit words, Prāna, life force, or vital energy, particularly, the breath, and "āyāma", to suspend or restrain. It is often translated as control of the life force (prana).When used as a technical term in yoga, it is often translated more specifically as "breath control".Literal translations include A. A. Macdonell's "suspension of breath" and I. K. Taimni's "regulation of breath"


to each her/his own. may all beings be happy.

Ursula said...

Thank you for your comment and sharing your thoughts.

Thank you for posting wikepedia link.