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Being in Pranayama: Kim

To be one with our breath sounds simple, basic and fundamental to our being. Yet, in our hectic
day-to-day living, the act of breathing is often overlooked. Learning about Pranayama (in Sanskrit,
“prana” refers to ‘life energy’ and “ayama” translates to ‘control’ or ‘to extend or draw out’) has been a
wonderful revelation during the YTT. A practice of breath regulation, Pranayama builds intention and
purpose with every inhalation and exhalation. Sometimes referred to as the “heart of yoga”,
Pranayama seeks to connect the body with the mind by supplying the body with oxygen, which clears
toxins and balances our physical and mental wellbeing.

 

Yoga has been such an embodied practice, and this is clearly illustrated in the Pranayama exercises
which are so gestural, symbolic and visceral. The act of Ujjayi Pranayama, which translates to
‘victorious breath’, is steady and rhythmic, with each inhalation and exhalation sounding like the
waves of the ocean drawing up the shoreline. Similarly with Brahmari (bumble bee’s breath) which
calms the mind and eases anxiety with the soothing humming akin to a bumble bee; or with Bhastrika
(bellow’s breath) which is a rapid and forceful technique – much like the bellow that furnishes strong
blasts of air to heat up fire, this pranayama energises the body with every breath.

 

Prior to YTT, the idea of just sitting still to breathe was anxiety-inducing. What if my mind wanders,
what if I can’t focus, or get restless and constantly fidget? Wouldn’t this be counter-productive? But I
realised my worries were unfounded as the weeks went by. These days, I am grateful for the 20
minutes of Pranayama before commencing our YTT practice. Pranayama provides the emotional and
mental space for self reflection and awareness, to find stillness and quiet, and to be humble, grateful
and to honour my yoga practice.

 

Kim
200HR YTT Jul’21 Weekend

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