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Pranayama: Preparations and Beginnings
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Pranayama is the yogic art and science of breathing. Even more, it is the practice of refining awareness of the life force, prana, which animates the material universe. Through the various pranayamas, this vital energy is directed toward the process of purifying and transforming the body, mind, and energy of the practitioner.
Regular practice of asana, yoga postures, over time is highly recommended to prepare for the more subtle practice of pranayama. Because quietness and receptivity are crucial and proper sitting is challenging, in the Iyengar tradition, we begin pranayama practice lying down. To help create space in the chest, lie on one or two blankets, approximately 4-6 inches high and 12-18 inches wide. From the middle of the lower back (the lumbar spine) to the top of the head, you should feel comfortably supported, as seen on the album cover.
Elevate your head 2-4 inches so that your face is tilted slightly down toward your body without any pressure or tension in your throat. Your practice will be much more effective if you do it on an empty stomach, in a quiet place with fresh air. It is essential throughout your practice that you avoid tension or strain. If you experience anxiety or shortness of breath, you are exceeding your capacity and should seek guidance from an experienced pranayama teacher.
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