Dhana is a wonderful yoga teacher. She is very knowledgeable about yoga, has a warm personality and infinite patience. For someone like me, who was born with limited flexibility, Dhana always has alternate ways to do the asanas. She has inspired me to keep up my yoga practice at home and away. Thanks to her inspiration, even in the foothills of China, I carry my mat with me.
— Joan Cockell,Kashgar, China
Dhana has been a tremendous help in my practice. When I think I have plateaued or hit the wall she always seems to push me forward and keep me inspired. Thank you so much!
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The Breath of Life
*“If breathing stops so does life. Therefore, regulate the breath.”
A massage therapist recently referred a client to me who was having breathing issues. This is not an uncommon complaint. The degrees of it vary, but to breathe fully and deeply sometimes needs to be re-learned. Since breath is the most important thing in our lives, we should pay close attention to it.
Breathing deeply promotes relaxation, brings about a sense of well being, and rejuvenates the nervous system. It is said that during the course of one day, a person breathes about 2000 times, and that we take in about 500 cubic cm of air. With deep inhalation that amount increases six times to almost 3000 cubic centimetres.
In Sanskrit, breath is referred to as Prana. Prana is breath, but it’s also energy, vibration and life. Ayama refers to the storing and distribution of that energy, hence the term Pranayama, which, if you’ve studied yoga you may be familiar with this term.
Take a moment and inhale, long and deep.
For some people this is a welcome sensation and brings about an instant sense of calm. People often begin a fitness regime or take yoga classes to improve fitness levels, but what we are really aiming to do, is make our bodies strong enough that we may become a stable vessel for breath , to flow through unimpeded.
Inhalation activates the central nervous system and connects us to the physical body. The first thing a healthy baby does when it’s born is take a breath. Even before it cries, it needs to inhale.
Now try the exhalation. After a soft inhalation, let the exhalation naturally find its end. Don’t hurry it. Watch how deeply your exhale wants to be.
Now try the same thing with the exhalation. Let the lungs completely empty.
Exhalation teaches us about detachment from the physical body. It teaches us to let go, and to trust. This may be why so many people have no problem taking a long inhalation, but rush the exhalation, clinging to the next inhalation as if it were a life raft on a sinking vessel. Indeed, it is common for students who are beginning the study of pranayama to admit feeling a sensation similar to drowning when they attempt to lengthen their exhalations. The remedy for this is sustained practice and the discomfort is quickly replaced by a deep calm and relaxed state that can only be attained by quiet observation of the breath.
Take time every day to pay attention to your breath. It will do wonders for your nervous system and stress levels.
Since Pranayama affects the nervous system directly, it is not advised to study Pranayama alone. Seek out the expertise of a qualified teacher, book, or video if you are interested in taking up the wonderful and transformational healing tool.
“As long as there is breath in the body, there is life. When breath departs, so too does life.” Yoga Master, BKS Iyengar.
*( Hatha Yoga Pradikipa -ch.2:S.3)