Article by Rashna Tjikhoeri
In ancient times the practice of Yoga was taught one on one. In private from teacher to student. The practice of Yoga was treated like something sacred. Not something that was suitable for the public masses.
It took a dedicated student to undergo such training with the intention to pass the knowledge further to other dedicated students.
Back in the days Yoga was seen as a way of life. A life philosophy consisting of breathing (pranayama), practicing Yoga poses (asanas), relaxation (Shavasana), meditation and positive thinking (dhyana) and nutrition.
Nowadays the practice of Yoga is often taught to large groups of people. There are both positive sides to this development as there are negative sides to it. One of the positive things about this development is that the public gets a chance to learn more about what Yoga truly is and how it can contribute to a more conscious way of living.
For example one of the wonderful things we can learn from the ancient Yoga philosophy and the practice of Yoga is breath awareness so we can live a more fulfilling and conscious life.
Breathing is one of the foundations of Yoga. It all starts with breathwork through breath training and pranayama. They both complement each other, but it’s important to know that breath training is the foundation of pranayama and that one should start with breath training before practicing pranayama.
Breath training consists of:
1) being aware of the movement of the breath,
2) learning about good breathing and
3) the connection of the breaths.
It all starts with the awareness of the movement of the breath. One can not see the breath. One can only experience the sensation that can be experienced in the body when one takes an inhalation or an exhalation.
The movement is caused by the diaphragm. When we breathe in the diaphragm contracts and the lungs fill themselves with oxygen. The abdomen expands as well as the ribcage which expands along both sides and even in the back.
This creates a sensation within the body that one can be aware of. When we breathe out the diaphragm relaxes, the abdomen contracts and the ribcage moves back. And finally, the lungs empty themselves with an exhalation. One can become aware of these movements within the body.
The second stage is to learn about good breathing by asking yourself questions about your own way of breathing. Am I breathing well? What is good breathing? What can I do to change the way I breathe (in the case of an improper way of breathing)? What are the benefits of good breathing for me and my health?
And the third stage is about the awareness of the connection between an inhalation and an exhalation. A normal breathing pattern consists of an inhalation, a natural pause, an exhalation and a natural pause.
With awareness, one can recognize these different phases of the breath so that one can work towards a smooth transition between these four phases. When one gains mastery over these 3 stages of breath training, one is ready to practice pranayama.
When practicing pranayama one holds the breath between the inhalation and the exhalation to control the mind and to balance the left and right hemisphere.
Benefits of both breath training and pranayama are the process of cleansing, revitalizing, relaxation and rejuvenation of body and mind, which will ultimately lead to finding yourself. Your true self.
Rashna Tjikhoeri lives in the Netherlands and is a Yoga, Meditation, and Yoga Nidra trainer and teacher, Transformation and Health & Detox Coach and freelance writer. Her biggest inspirations are Mother Nature and the classical Yoga philosophy. It’s her life’s mission to inspire others to live a conscious, happy, inspiring and fulfilling life from a place of love and light. Living in the present moment enjoying all the great gifts that life has to offer. Accepting oneself on the way whatever life presents us with on our journey. She believes that we already possess the knowledge and experience that’s required to live our soul purpose and that life events are there to remind us of what we already know on a deeper level. She believes that everyone is unique and that we can achieve great things as long as we are willing to see, hear and acknowledge our inner calling.