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Breathe Deep

by on July 15, 2013

Really, that’s the only instruction for the Pranayama (yogic breathing) workshop that I’ve been teaching in the DC area for the last couple of years.

Sure, I’ve added more instructions. A sample class (~1.5 hours) is listed below. But really, all I could do is to say: “Inhale deeply. Hold the breath for as long as is comfortable*. Let it go. Observe the effect on mind and body. Repeat.”

Meanwhile, to keep my students busy for the allotted time, here’s my routine:

  • Welcome and introduce oneself (student participation is crucial)
  • Brief intro to 8 limbs and the context of today’s session
  • Warmup and stretches
  • Asanas for core and lungs (surya A, cat/cow, child, Lion’s breath optional!)
  • Pranayama 1: equal breathing (for calming nerves and balancing energy)
  • Pranayama 2: 3-part yogic breathing (for inner awareness and lung expansion)
  • Pranayama 3: Kumbakha (retention, upto 4, 8, or 12 seconds)
  • Pranayama 4: Kumbakha (retention) + Rechaka (suspension)
  • Pranayama 5: Pranayama 4 + Bandhas (mula + jalandhara during Kumbakha, maha bandha during Rechaka)
  • Pranayama 5: Kapalbhati for ~3 minutes (detox)
  • Pranayama 6: Fire Breath for ~3 minutes (more of a kriya)
  • Pranayama 7: Minute breath (to balance out the previous two)
  • Pranayama 8: Bhastrika (double-espresso shot, handle with care)
  • Pranayama 9: Anulom vilom / nadi shodana / alternate nostril (balancing, relaxing)
  • Savasana, and closing Meditation: Choice between 3x3x3, “I have arrived, I am home“, or 5-points of awareness

Thanks for reading, and please share your routines and link to my blog or let me know and I can post your routine. Let’s keep yoga open-source and accessible!

* Breath retention should be avoided by those suffering from a high blood pressure, and those who are pregnant. Pranayama should not be practiced for longer than 30 minutes per day – the bulk of the time of the session is for explanation / discussion.

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