Practical Ways to Include Pranayama Practices into your Yoga Class

Practical Ways to Include Pranayama Practices into your Yoga Class

pranayama practicesBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

How and when should we include pranayama practices in Yoga classes? We will look deep into this subject. Truly, the ancient Yogis realized that controlling the breath allows a practitioner to calm fluctuating thought waves. As we learn to control our breath through pranayama practices, our minds ordinarily follow suit. In brief, uncontrolled thoughts can lead to anxious internal states of being that drain us of our life force energy. Long-term negative thought patterns can also lower the functioning of the immune system. As a result, we become more vulnerable to developing chronic diseases.


Pranayama According to Patanjali

Pantanjali, one of the most revered Yogis of all time, held pranayama practices, or breathing exercises in high regard. So much so, that he regarded pranayama exercises as one of the most fundamental practices of Yoga. Accordingly, Pantanjali felt that the essence of all Yoga practice is to yoke and melt the mind, heart, and soul into the divine. In essence, a frantic, anxious, and undisciplined mind will prevent your students from sinking into states of bliss. Slowing down and stilling the thought waves in the mind will afford your students the opportunity to experience pure relaxation.


Steady Practice

Regularly including pranayama exercises in your Yoga classes will help your students to rest in stillness by systematically calming the mind and harmonizing the discordant nature of their thoughts. Pranayama exercises will also help your students to witness their thoughts while affording them the opportunity to let go of thinking patterns that do not bring them peace, energy, creativity, happiness, or joy. By regularly including breathing exercises in your Yoga classes, your students will reap the benefits of a well-rounded practice that will generate feelings of well-being, physical health, and emotional clarity.


How to Add Pranayama

An easy way to include pranayama exercises into your Yoga classes is to begin or end each class with a brief period of meditation or contemplation and five minutes of simple breathing exercises. Even five minutes of deep breathing will help to calm, center, and energize your students. Dirgha Pranayama, or Three-Part Breath, is an easy pranayama exercise that will center the mind and balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. For detailed instructions on how to practice and teach Dirga Pranayama, please refer to the video below.


© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Teaching Pranayama Practices in Yoga Class

By Faye Martins

When should we teach pranayama? To clarify, there is no one answer to the question of when to teach pranayama practices in yoga class. For one thing, it depends on the level of the students and the goals of the class. That is to say, if students are beginners, it might be best to wait until they have a good understanding of the basics before introducing pranayama. Significantly, for more advanced students, pranayama should be introduced during intermediate training. The first thing to remember is to make sure that students are ready and willing to learn this more advanced practice.


Guiding and Explaining

During Yoga class, it’s important to explain the importance of Yogic breathing to students. Of course, Yogic breathing, or pranayama, is a form of controlled breathing that helps to improve overall health and well-being. When practiced regularly, pranayama can help students to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep quality, and boost energy levels. In time, pranayama can also help to improve lung function and cardiovascular health. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that students are aware of the benefits of yogic breathing and how to do it properly.


What About Beginners?

There are many different pranayama techniques, but some are more suitable for beginners than others. Yoga class is the perfect place for students to learn pranayama practices. The teacher can provide guidance and support while students are seated or standing in poses. The easiest pranayama practices for beginners include diaphragmatic breathing and three-part breath. Diaphragmatic breathing involves inhaling deeply through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. Three-part breath is similar, but the inhale is divided into three parts: the lower abdomen, the middle chest, and the upper chest.


Pranayama for Experienced Students

In Yoga class, we sometimes teach advanced pranayama practices to experienced students. Pranayama is a type of breathing exercise that is very beneficial for holistic health. Some of the benefits of pranayama include reducing stress, improving circulation, and promoting relaxation. Since there are many different types of pranayama, and each one has its own unique benefits, advanced students are incorporating some of these exercises into their practice. Of course, teaching complicated techniques is better in a class with experienced students only. Sometimes, studios offer workshops, especially for experienced students only. Ultimately, we want to keep all of our students safe and we know some students are not patient with themselves.

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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