Hello. It’s me—the woman sitting off to the side near the back of class.
Yes, I’m a drop in, but I’ve taken this class before and I love it. It’s a respectable, challenging and laugh-out-loud time…except for the pranayama thrown around in it.
I know that probably sounds harsh. But at this point I have to say something, because it’s important, because everyone taking these classes and teaching these classes is important, and intelligent, and might benefit from some more information.
What I see now when I drop into classes like these are a lot of teachers trying, with good intentions, to incorporate techniques—like a breath of fire or a random breath holding—without a solid understanding about what these practices do to the body after the initial sensations wear off.
Pranayama has the potential to influence shifts and transformations in the nervous system when done correctly. Yet this path is not one of instant gratification; it is a subtle, penetrating and more deeply satisfying experience when done correctly over time. Compare this to a hectic pumping of the abdomen with no guidance or reason that, over months, has the potential to cause the system more harm than good.
I don’t know why I stumbled on a different path, but I am glad I did. And now I feel a responsibility to explain why I see it as detrimental to be throwing these practices around loosely, just for the temporary sensation of it, in mixed-level asana classes.
After five years developing a pranayama practice under the guidance of a dedicated and qualified teacher (Paul Dallaghan, who is certified to teach pranayama by Sri O.P. Tiwari, a master teacher in a lineage later described), I feel it’s time to explain this through the lens of five reasons that I don’t do just any old breathing exercise thrown my way.
I hope that through reading these reasons you might actually want to check out these practices and their potential benefits (I hope for this so much that I don’t mind if you skip my words and spend time directly with a master teacher by scrolling down to a videos at the bottom!):
Read the rest of this article on Elephant Journal.