Ideal for anyone wanting to establish a pranayama practice | iHanuman


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Ideal for anyone wanting to establish a pranayama practice

This 55-minute audio offering from Iyengar yoga instructor John Schumacher provides a thorough introduction to pranayama, the practice of yogic breathing. As Schumacher explains, prana refers to life force, and so pranayama techniques are intended to help the yoga practitioner attain greater control over this energy and its effects on the body. It is generally recommended that students have a strong foundation in yoga asana (postures) prior to establishing a pranayama practice.This practice consists of 15 total chapters. In his introduction, Schumacher encourages the practitioner to perform the exercises lying down in a relaxed position, and in fact the session actually begins with savasana (relaxation or corpse pose). Following this, Schumacher introduces the concept of breath awareness, encouraging the listener to feel the movement of the breath going through the body. Once this increased consciousness has been established, Schumacher moves into the first actual pranayama technique, Conditioned Breath (Ujjayi I). Here the practitioner will use their new-found awareness of the breath to move the breath into particular areas of the body. Using the hands as tools for perception, Schumacher instructs the listener to place the hands on the lower ribs and to feel the breath moving in and out of this region. Schumacher ends this first practice segment with a 2.5-minute savasana designed to reestablish an even in and out breath pattern.The next pranayama practice is Viloma. Schumacher translates Viloma as “against the hair [grain],” which refers to the fact that the breath is interrupted when practicing this technique. He states that the purpose of this is both to move the breath to certain parts of the chest as well as to elongate the breath. The first Viloma practice is a 3-part segmented breath with pauses, a style of breathing that may already be familiar to more experienced yoga practitioners. In order to prepare for the Viloma practice, Schumacher again guides the listener through breath awareness to begin, then leads the 5.5-minute initial Viloma exercise. Next comes a second round of Viloma, this time adding a 4th segment. Schumacher cautions the listener to stop if feeling any strain, reminding one not to force the breath. In the Introduction to Exhalation (Rechaka) segment, Schumacher introduces the technique of Ujjayi exhalation, a smooth, vocal exhale. The Viloma is then repeated with relaxed exhales, and lastly, there is a short final savasana to conclude the session.Using a soft, soothing voice, Schumacher gently guides you through this practice. He provides excellent instruction, moving slowly enough to allow the listener plenty of time to become fully aware of the breath. Furthermore, the entire session offers a nice mix of active breathing practice—which can be a bit strenuous at times, especially for those new to pranayama techniques—and guided relaxation segments. I would highly recommend this audio to any experienced yoga practitioner who would like to establish a pranayama practice.

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