Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Why I do not like to compromise on pranayama, in a class

I get subtle suggestions from several students, who will say they do not like pranayama, they get bored, can they please try different ones, that they rather do asana.. This subtle attempt to manipulate me continues. Even as a teacher, when you stand in front of a class where certain students resist/resent pranayama, you need to go deep into yourself to be able to do a high energy pranayama session. This is a big challenge, which, I must say a lot of yoga teachers in Mumbai do not seem to take on. They are afraid of losing students and therefore capitulate.

I stick to pranayama because I believe it is premeditative, that it tones the ego down, plus it controls the reflexive knee jerk reactions people bring to tough poses (like headstand and the crow) and that the marriage of the left-right brain is very crucial for reaching the real depth in a pose. I believe more, that the nadis get progressively purified, that you will be disease free for longer,  and that your skin glows with regular pranayama. So, I do not need much convincing. I have also realised that you cannot convince students who believe otherwise that pranayama is indeed good. But if you stick to your decision to include pranayama in every class then, yes, that may be how tough you are as a teacher. It may be required to be that way, for the sake of integrity.

Here is some more, from an article I once wrote ..

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, referred to even today as the last word on yogic practices and their psycho-somatic and spiritual impacts, also says: "The vayu (wind or air) should be skillfully inhaled, exhaled and retained in order to attain siddhi or perfection."  Again, the emphatic assurance towards longevity and perfect health through breath control: "When one is able to hold the vayu according to one's will, the digestive power increases. With the nadis (energy channels in the body) purified, the inner sound or nada awakens and one is free from disease."
In yoga, disease is seen as a hurdle in the spiritual path. Hence, the ancient Yoga Chudamani Upanishad (authorship unknown) assures us that "pranayama becomes fire for the fuel of sin, and has always been regarded by yogis as a great bridge for crossing the ocean of the world." Even Ramana Maharishi, that celebrated sage of Arunchalam, who did not approve of an obsessive yogapractice encouraged breath control as the ideal way to tame a reluctant mind and coax it towards higher spiritual goals. He says: "The source of the breath is the same as that of the mind. Therefore the subsistence of either leads to the other. The practice of stilling the mind through breath control is called yoga." 


Anonymous said...

Shameem do you recomend pranayama after asana or before .

Shameem Akthar said...

I have written umpteen times about it, can u just google me for this topic please. It is a bit extensive to cover like this..