I have been deepening my study and practice of Pranayama, the often misunderstood and ignored practice of 'life-force extension'. Many practitioners simplify this to mean 'breathing exercises,' but Pranayama can't be reduced to breathing exercises any more than Asana (Postures) can be reduced to 'stretching.' Like all of yoga, intention, focus and dedication are vital to the practice of Pranayama.
In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali describes Pranayama as the lengthening and smoothing of the inhale and exhale, but he is almost alone in that description. Most of the other ancient texts define Pranayama as primarily or entirely Kumbhaka, breath retention. To them, Pranayama is synonymous with holding the breath.
It is within these periods of held breath that the life force of the body, the prana, is controlled, extended, slowed and eventually even halted altogether. This stillness, when even the most basic functions of the body are ceased, is where the consciousness reveals its true nature - the formless, the absolute.
Pranayama is described by many of the texts as the most important element of a yogic practice. It is through this control that higher stages of self-integration are realized and that karmic demerit, the junk we carry with us from our current and previous lives, is removed.
This journal honors my ongoing experience with the practice, study and teaching of yoga.
1) Sridaiva Yoga: Good Intention But Imbalanced
2) Understanding Chair Posture
2) Why I Don't Use Sanskrit or Say Namaste
3) The Meaningless Drudgery of Physical Yoga
5) Beyond Bikram: Why This Is a Great Time For Ghosh Yoga