Pranayama is often translated as breath control, when in fact the truer definition is expansion of the vital energy or prana. Breath exercises are used to direct vital energy into the nadis or energy channels in the body and to awaken dormant spiritual energy, the kundalini. At the most basic level, pranayama practitioners can experience benefits from pain relief to increased energy levels, relaxation, and deeper meditation. In daily life, a pranayama practice can mean the difference between a feeling of deeper inner pressure and the ability to expand one’s mind in a stressful situation. When one is able to direct the flow of vital energy, one can accomplish any task with greater ease and awaken potential in all areas of life.
Classes begin with basic breathing. Basic breath awareness exercises can be life changing and a very accessible entrance into pranayama practice. These exercises allow for a great deal of creativity from the teacher/ student; the sky is the limit! They can be used to bring awareness to the mind/body/emotional connection of the breath, the muscles involved in breathing, breath pacing, and the parts of the breath. Once the parts of the breath have been clarified, students may be ready for classical pranayama techniques. These techniques are best learned under the tutelage of an experienced practitioner or teacher as it is important to learn to practice them without strain. There can be several side effects to these powerful practices such as tingling sensations, experience of heat and cold, intense sweating and shaking, and emotional disturbances, which are best monitored by a teacher at first. Further, practices can be altered to specific students based upon physical and mental health conditions.
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