Breathing practice is a refuge.
~Richard (paraphrased) in last night’s yoga teacher training.
In yoga teacher training class last night the first part of class was on back bends (baby back bends) and the second half was on Pranayama.
We focused on Ujjayi Pranayama.
Over my years of practicing yoga I have learned how to breathe … differently.
We all know how to breathe. But do we breathe in the best way? In the most healthy way? Most of us shorten our exhale.
When in a stressful or uncomfortable situation one of the things we can control is our breathing. I call that practicing yoga off the mat.
In class, the mind is constantly wandering. And it is natural for our minds to wander.
A good way to get back to the present and back to your yoga practice is to focus on your breathing.
You must come back to the breath.
I try different things to do that, such as:
- My dad’s wife, Hilda, is a yoga teacher and tells her students when you inhale say to yourself: I am. And when you exhale: here.
- Sometimes I just tell myself: breathe in, breathe out.
- Vickie says to repeat: I am breathing in, I am breathing out.
Richard did tell us before taking on a breathing practice we have to be ready. He asked the class how many of us planned to take on a breathing practice. He asked that we be honest and not raise our hands if we didn’t plan on it.
I didn’t raise my hand.
Richard told us that it is OK if we aren’t ready.
Richard gave us a few tidbits about a breathing practice:
- Pranayama is the basis for meditation.
- Don’t let the breath be unhappy.
- Breathing practice is a refuge. It cleans things out.
- Pass on the breathing exercise when you have a cold or are sick.
Here was the process we followed last night to get into our full pranayama practice:
- Step 1: Quiet the mind
- Step 2: Feel movement in the belly/feel the quality of movement
- Step 3: Ujjayi breath–sound helps monitor movement of breath
I am not against having a regular breathing practice. Actually, I think it is a good thing and a healthy thing.
But I am working to make time for a home practice. If my home practice was at least 45 minutes regularly I would use at least 10 minutes for breathing. But my home practice is roughly 25 minutes on three out of the five days. (And Richard recommended a breathing practice of at least four times a week.)
Eventually I will get there.