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Breathing in Yoga: Role, Relevance and Technique
by Daniel Pineault

Breathing in Yoga :
Role, Relevance and Technique

I: The Role of Breathing in yoga

Breath is the most basic expression of life. Without breath life is impossible. Nature’s breath is observable everywhere, in trees, in flowers, in animals and of course in human beings. Breath is a continuous cycle and when this cycle is active, life exists. At the physical level it can be seen as a phenomenon of exchange. At a subtle level it can be interpreted as a link to the source of life itself. In many philosophical traditions, the breath is the manifestation of the spirit of life, physical and spiritual.

From the physical point of view, the act of breathing is understood as a phenomenon of exchange. Breath comes into the body during inhalation and goes out of the body during exhalation. The diaphragm is a muscle that plays the important role of bringing the air in - when it contracts for inhalation, and then letting the air out - when it relaxes for exhalation.

The air that enters the body and the air that comes out of the body are not of the same composition. A chemical exchange is performed during the process of breathing. Air rich in oxygen goes into the lungs upon inhalation and the oxygen dissolves in the bloodstream by the action of the alveoli. Through the pumping action of the heart, oxygenated blood circulates in the body through the different arteries and organs to perform the vital functions necessary to life before finally returning to the lungs through the veins, fully charged with oxidation byproducts. Carbon dioxide and water are released back to nature through the phase of exhalation. On another physiological level, inhalation contributes to cellular nutrition and the adequate construction of body tissues, while exhalation ensures elimination, cleaning and purification functions, removing the physical and subtle impurities of the body.

The breathing process is adjustable to the demand and thus depends on the activity level of the individual. A sedentary person breathes slowly and requires less oxygen than a more active person. Respiratory rate is modulated by the degree of physical activity or by the level of stress affecting the individual. During calm deep sleep, breathing is minimal whereas when running, breath rate can reach a maximum.

Breath is not only a physical and a chemical process, it becomes even more subtle as it links to the emotional state of mind. Agitation of the mind produces the same variations in the breath as the increased level of physical activity. Take for example the reaction of the breath during an agitated night dream. The power of mind is very influential on the energy of the breath. Ancient yogis have correctly observed that the fluctuations of the mind influence the energy of the breath.

In the normal everyday life, while we do not specifically concentrate on the breath, we roughly use 30% of our breathing capacity. This is why we sometimes feel tired, dizzy, and sleepy, our digestion may be slow and our body may be weak. When we need to optimize our physiological functions, it is a good idea to increase our breathing capacity. This is precisely why the breath is important in yoga. This discipline makes it possible to increase breathing capacity up to 80-100% with the help of simple postures, movements and breathing techniques.

Today it is well understood that yoga is not only a physical discipline involving the practice of postures but it is now conceived as a complete array of tools that help to achieve the goal of yoga: orientation, clarity and stability of the mind (YS I.2). Yoga is a logical and efficient evolution process that was explained in the early days by Patanjali (YS II.29). One who wants to start practicing yoga should first make sure that his relations with the environment and other beings is appropriate (yama); he should follow a proper discipline (niyama); he should prepare the body accordingly through the help of postures, appropriate physical exercise and correct attitude (asana); only then, under these conditions, the practice of controlled breathing (pranayama) is possible. Asana prepares the subtle process of breathing. In a well designed yoga practice, body preparation is necessary to perform controlled breathing techniques and obtain the benefits of an improved breathing capacity.

II: The relevance of breathing in yoga

Everyone knows that we have to maintain a certain level of physical activity to be physically fit. However, such physical fitness, which can be addressed by physical exercise, does not necessarily equate with total wellbeing. In addition to body fitness, total wellbeing also means psychological stability and mental health; these two can be addressed by using appropriate breathing techniques. An agitated mind is always accompanied by an agitated breath. From this simple fact comes the concept that we can reach a calmer state of mind when the breath is controlled properly. For the modern adult, searching ways of reducing stress and increasing clarity and stability in life, breath control is probably the most relevant tool, certainly the best instrument to clean the mind.

The benefits of such a technique has become evident: breathing control (and consequently the control of the energy of the breath) is the technique that yoga calls "pranayama". "Prana–yama" means breath control. "Prana-ayama" means to make the breath become longer.

Role of the breath in asana

Especially in the yoga tradition of professor Krishnamacharya, breath is in synergy with movement. In fact every movement in asana is accompanied by the corresponding breathing phase. For example: postures with movements opening the chest are normally performed during inhalation; postures with movements compressing the abdomen (forward bending postures, lateral stretch or twisting postures) are performed during exhalation. Also in sitting asana, the action of inhaling into the chest and exhaling from the lower abdomen results in the vertical stretching of the spine. The resulting expanded chest and free moving abdomen contribute to reaching the maximal breathing capacity.

We know that a good asana preparation is necessary to the practice of pranayama, and we also understand that appropriate breathing helps performing better in asana. Asana respects the two qualities of vigilance and comfort (YS II.46). The most valuable indication that this subtle balance is respected is in a breath that is long and smooth. Thus, the best indicator of “sthira sukham” remains the quality of the breath. Additionally the control of the breath has some important effects on the subtle body and the energy of the person.

The practice of controlled breathing

When the synergy between asana and the breath becomes natural for the practitioner, a subtler breathing level is attained. Pranayama is this quality of the breath where the phases of exhalation, inhalation and retentions are done more consciously (YS II.49). Breath changes from an unconscious state to a conscious one and also evolves from an irregular pattern to a more regular one.

Awareness of the four breathing phases, a better sense of the location of the breath, of its duration and numbers, will result in a longer and more subtle breath (YS II.50). This dual quality of length and subtleness is the necessary consequence of a good pranayama practice. Whatever the techniques used, if it does not result in a longer and more subtle breath, it is not pranayama. Finally, according to the astanga yoga of Patanjali, pranayama is a preparatory step to meditation.

III: The techniques of pranayama

Before attempting the techniques of pranayama, one should be well motivated and committed. This is what yoga call sankalpa. It is important to consider that yoga is not a competition. One should always respect its capacities in every practice. The practitioner should have the proper attitude (Bhavana) and the adequate mental preparation to undertake the discipline of controlled breathing.

The first step in breath control is the observation of the natural breath. We have to first observe how our breath currently is, before attempting to control it. For beginners, we sometimes have to start by simply observing the breath in a comfortable lying down position, with hands felling the belly movements. One can then easily become aware of the inhalation and exhalation phases. Then, the first phase of the breath that we want to control is the exhalation. Extending the exhalation creates a calmer mind and relaxes the body. The exhalation phase removes the impurities in the physical and the mental body as well. A mental cleaning process becomes possible with breath control; it is one of the most important functions (samskara) of pranayama. It helps the practitioner to become calm and focused.

Table: 4 phases of the breath

Energizing phases:
Puraka abhyantara vritti inhalation internal activity

Antah Kumbaka stamba vritti retention after IN

Calming phases:
Rechaka bahya vritti exhalation external activity

Bahya Kumbaka stamba vritti retention after EX

The four phases of the breath are the basis of energy control. Modulation of these phases creates heightened consciousness and extension of breath elasticity. The modulation of the phases should never compromise the length of the exhalation phase. The wise yogis of the past have invented techniques designed to produce longer breaths. The length is measured in seconds (or counts) and may be extended by the practice of one of the following techniques.

Nadi sodhana:
Nadi means small channels or tubes, through which the energy of the breath circulates into every part of the body. Nadi sodhana is a technique that is known to clean the nadis. Nostrils represent the physical terminations of the nadis, and in the nadi sodhana technique we breathe through each nostril alternately to remove subtle impurities and eventually feel healthier and better. Nadi sodhana is usually done this way: Left Nostril Inhale - Right Nostril Exhale - Right Nostril Inhale - Left Nostril Exhale. The alternate blocking of each nostril is ensured by Mrigi Mudra, a hand positioning in which the index and middle finger are folded into the palm leaving the thumb to close one nostril and the other 2 fingers to close the opposite side. The fingertips are pressed against the fleshy part on the sides of the nose just below the bony part. One has to completely close one nostril and partially close the other nostril to lengthen the breath. This technique can be accompanied by a visualization of the energy that comes into the system during inhalation and by visualizing the exhalation of impurities during the exhalation. This is one of the most important techniques in yoga. It is sometimes called the Raja Pranayama.

Ujjayi is a technique where one inhales and exhales through both nostrils while producing a continuous throat sound by a partial constriction of the glottis. This inner sound allows the evaluation of the regularity and smoothness of the breath. A uniform smooth sound is produced by a regular breath; while a variable and inconsistent sound is produced by a disturbed breath. Such a disturbed breath can happen when we push the body too hard in a posture or simply when the mind is agitated. The ujjayi technique is known to balance the three doshas (Vatta, Pita, Kapha) and is universally recommended in yoga, even during the practice of asana, as long as it does not produce throat irritation or fatigue.

Anuloma ujjayi is the technique using alternate nostrils for exhalation while ujjayi is used for the inhalation (IN Ujjayi, EX left, IN Ujjayi, EX right). This technique is commonly used to prepare for nadi sodhana pranayama and has a calming effect since it naturally extends the exhalation.

Viloma ujjayi is the opposite technique and uses alternate nostril inhalation while ujjayi is used for exhalation (IN left, EX ujjayi, IN right, EX ujjayi). This technique promotes a deeper inhale and produces an energizing effect.

Pratiloma ujjayi is a combination of the two preceding techniques and is mainly used for pranayama where a larger number of breaths are to be taken. With longer periods of controlled nostril breathing, arm fatigue may appear and this technique is useful to relieve the arm. One complete cycle of Pratiloma Ujjayi consists of 4 breaths: IN ujjayi, EX left, IN left, EX ujjayi, IN Ujjayi, EX right, IN right, EX Ujjayi. With this pranayama, 12 cycles equals 48 breaths.

Sîtalî is a technique where one breathes through the mouth. It is useful for people who have problems with nostril breathing. Sîtalî also produces a cooling effect due to breathing through the mouth with a rolled tongue. In Sîtalî, we form a tube with the tongue and lower the head. We then inhale through the rolled tongue while slowly lifting the head up. When the inhale is completed, we lower the head while rolling the tongue back to the soft part of the palate, and then we exhale with ujjayi through both nostrils. This is one complete cycle.

Sîtalî Anuloma uses the same technique for the inhalation, but then one exhales through alternate nostrils. Sîtkârî is another technique producing a cooling effect and is useful for people who cannot roll the tongue into the form of a tube. The technique is similar to Sîtalî, except that the tongue is placed behind the teeth, and during inhalation the air comes into the mouth on both sides of the tongue.

Bhramari is a technique where one produces the humming sound of a bee by pronouncing the letter “M” during exhalation. Inhalation remains free and comfortable.

In Murccha the goal is to produce a deep inhalation followed by a very long exhalation while the mind remains totally quiet. It is said that one can reach a state of semi consciousness while being totally relaxed and focused on a much longer exhalation.

Surya bedhana is a breathing technique used to focus on one specific side of the body. It is useful for healing purposes when one wish to increase the symbolic fire energy in some organs in the right side of the body. The energy of the right side of the body is activated by always inhaling through the right nostril and then always exhaling through the left nostril. In yoga, the right side of the body symbolizes the sun and the action of fire.

Chandra bedhana is the opposite of surya bhedana as the focus is on the left side of the body. Chandra symbolically represents the moon and this technique generally has a calming effect. Inhalation is always through the left nostril and then exhalation is always through the right.

About the use of these techniques
Even though there are many techniques, all of them contribute to the same purpose of pranayama: helping the breath to become long and smooth (YS II.50). Techniques are not finality per se; the goal always remains a longer breath and a calmer mind.

Like everything else in yoga, the practice of pranayama should always be adapted to the type of practitioner, considering its strength, capacity, energy and experience. Pranayama should always respect the limits and the possibilities of the practitioner both physically and mentally.

Please note that we have not included Kapalabati (fast abdominal breathing) and Bastrika (fast single nostril abdominal breathing, changing nostril after each inhale) in the list of pranayama because they are generally classified as "Kriyas" – nostril preparation techniques – and they do not necessarily produce a longer breath so they cannot be really considered as pranayama.

Increasing the power of pranayama with the use of sounds:

Pranayama techniques that have been described so far do not involve the use of sound and are called Amantraka pranayama.

One should know that the practice of pranayama can also be oriented to address specific aspects of human personality and well-being. For example, controlled breathing can be used to increase self-confidence, or to reduce mental agitation. For such goals, samantraka pranayama is useful. It involves the use of breathing techniques combined with sounds and/or meaningful mantras. The practitionerôs own relation to the mantra determines its power. In this technique, the inhalation is generally free and the sound production or mantra repetition are done during exhalation. At a subtler level, mantra can also be repeated mentally without producing sound.

Increasing the power of pranayama with the use of ratios

Apart from the techniques, the effects of breathing can be greatly influenced by the use of different breathing patterns whereby the four phases (IN - Hold – EX – Hold) can be modulated. Generally two main types of pranayama are used to influence the breath:

Samavritti are the breathing ratios where all the active components of the breath are equal ( or or or

Visamavritti are the breathing ratios in which components are not equal ( or or or

In these ratios, the first number of a sequence represents the value of the average duration of inhalation and is called the “breathing unit”. This breathing unit is the duration of inhalation, usually measured in seconds, which one can easily perform for at least 12 breaths while remaining comfortable. For example a ratio of for a person having a unit of 6 seconds of inhalation would result in a breathing pattern of, as expressed in seconds. The skill of a good pranayama teacher and a good pranayama practitioner is to choose the appropriate ratio to produce the desired effect. Yoga considers that one should be able to master samavritti pranayama first, being able to establish a balanced breath before exploring the more demanding ratios of visamavritti pranayama. One should also remember that the mastery of pranayama techniques and ratios usually takes months of regular and dedicated practice. In order to fully benefit from the positive aspects of pranayama, one should take the time that is needed and never force the breath.

3 main effects of pranayama: Brmhana, Langhana and Samana

The effects of Pranayama can globally be divided into three classes: Brmhana, Langhana and Samana.

Brmhana is the effect where more energy is produced. This effect comes from putting the focus on inhalation and then on the hold after inhalation. At the conclusion of a brmhana practice, the practitioner feels an expansion of the chest area (and the lungs); a good sensation of balanced energy will follow.

Langhana is a calming and interiorizing effect mainly because the focus is on exhalation and on the hold after exhalation. The lungs are empty and langhana can produce a calming effect, the mind easily focusing in the abdominal area.

Samana is a balanced harmonizing effect resulting from a combination of brimhana and langhana. The mind gets focused as it remains vigilant.

The resulting effect of a pranayama practice is a combination of factors, which depend on the state of mind, the energy level, the age, the motivation and the capacity of the individual. The more intense and regular the practice is, the faster the results will appear. In pranayama, the results do not only show at the physical level but will also be observed at subtler levels. Pranayama has a noticeable effect on stabilizing the humor and temper of an individual. This is why one should be careful and choose the appropriate pranayama practice under the guidance of a competent teacher.

Extending the breath even more with the use of kramas:

Krama means steps. It is the idea of breaking down the Inhalation or Exhalation into equal steps (generally 2 to 5 steps), and holding the breath for about two seconds between each step. Such techniques are used to efficiently increase the elasticity of the breath and allow the practitioner to extend the length of specific breathing phases. Krama can be used in pranayama only or it can also be performed during the execution of asana. Anuloma Krama is the breathing technique of breaking down the inhalation into equal parts. Viloma Krama is the technique of breaking down the exhalation into equal parts. Pratiloma Krama is the breaking down of both the inhalation and exhalation phases into equal parts (breathing IN with several holds and breathing OUT with several holds). In the implementation of these techniques, the student usually learns to comfortably split the breath into two equal parts first, then three, then four etc. One should be cautious with these powerful techniques to avoid creating fatigue. An interesting and captivating use of these krama techniques involves the visualization of one of the chakras each time we hold our breath, so that in seven steps we can visualize seven chakras. Another possible method is to concentrate on 5 parts of the body, 5 elements of nature and 5 bhutas (for example: Earth is Prthvi, Water is Apo, Digestion is tejas, Breath is Vayu, and Space is Akasha). Krama with a number of steps higher than five should only be performed by experienced practitioners.

Using pranayama for controlling subtle energies with Mudras and bandhas :

The word Mudra means seal or symbol. In pranayama there are several symbols, some of them are called bandhas and three of them are more important: Jâlandhara bandha, Uddiyâna bandha and Mûla bandha. Bandha conveys the idea of binding and contracting. Although this concept is not mentioned in the yoga sutras, the goal is to develop a better perception of certain specific locations (Desa) in the body. Jâlandhara bandha is the contraction that helps to focus on the location of the throat; Uddiyâna bandha is the focus on the abdomen; Mula bandha is the focus on the base of the spine.

All the pranayama practices with bandhas are very powerful and are known to reduce impurities in the abdomen and increase the capacity for concentration and the practitionerôs strength. These practices should be done under the guidance of an experienced teacher because they can have a dramatic effect on the bowels, or the menstrual periods (in the case of female practitioners).

Use of bhavana in breathing

Bhavana is a specific attitude of conviction that accompanies the breathing technique. It plays the role of directing the mind; it increases the concentration and supports the attention. Generally, concentration with the help of a bhavana increases the efficiency of the breathing technique. Here are some examples of bhavana that can be used in breathing exercises.

Table: Examples of bhavana in pranayama

Inhalation in the chest and Exhalation in the abdomen
Focus on the duration of the breath (counts in seconds)
Counting a specific number of breaths (12, or 24, or 48…)
Listening to the regular sound of the breath with Ujjayi
Focusing and counting the holds after IN and-or EX
Duration of IN = EX
Duration of Ex longer than IN
On Inhalation, one visualizes Prana Vayu
On Exhalation, one visualizes Apana Vayu
Following the breath through the nadis
Following the breath through the chakras
Respecting specific breathing ratios ex:
Any other bhavana suggestion resulting in a positive effect on the extension of the breath

IV: Characteristics of a pranayama practice

Yoga is a holistic discipline that addresses the various aspects of human evolution. Yoga uses a wide array of tools, but asana (the practice of postures) is generally the one that is used most frequently with younger practitioners in the Srsti Krama. The practice of Pranayama requires a certain maturity and represent te main tool for the adult practitioner at the stage of Sthiti Krama. Such a pranayama practitioner has achieved enough control over his body to allow him to stay in an appropriate sitting pranayama position for a given length of time. Even though they are very popular, and sometimes spectacular, bent leg positions are not absolutely necessary for the practice of breathing exercises. This is especially the case for the western practitioner who is accustomed to sitting on a comfortable chair. The correct asana must be chosen in regard to the capacity, flexibility and strength of a practitioner. For some people, sitting on a chair with the spine erected is a suitable posture for pranayama.

A pranayama practice also requires some asanas to prepare the body for the sitting posture. A short asana practice of 10 to 15 minutes is generally sufficient when appropriate stretching postures and counter poses are used. Preparatory asanas should not create fatigue since the main goal is the focus on pranayama. The whole pranayama practice, including the preparatory asanas, usually has a duration of 30 minutes but it may be shorter for beginners and longer for the more advanced practitioner.

Short term goals of pranayama can be viewed from different angles. One primary goal is certainly to develop the consciousness of the breath and to extend breath length. Also, the mastery of some introductory techniques (ujjayi, anuloma ujjayi, viloma ujjayi) is usually achieved within three months of serious practice. A beginning practitioner can also expect to master samavritti type ratios quite easily within the same period of time using a breathing unit of six seconds.

Midterm goals are characterized by the lengthening of the breath unit and reaching an increased breathing capacity. Familiarization with more demanding breathing techniques is usually achieved within 6 months to one year of serious practice and the breathing unit usually reaches 8 seconds or more; while the duration of the exhale may even reach 16 to 20 seconds. At this point, the practitioner is able to adapt his breathing techniques to various ratios of samavritti and some visamavritti like ,,

Longer term goals
of pranayama usually exceed breathing performance alone. Of course the breath becomes fully mature allowing the practitioner to master almost any type of techniques and ratios, but the real longer term goal is no longer physical but can rather be observed when the person has achieved a calm and clear mind, and shows stability and evidences of self-transformation.

Towards the more subtle aspects of breathing

Having mastered the technical possibilities of pranayama, one eventually reaches a higher state of mind where the breath is transcended. The focus is no longer on the body posture, nor the breath quality. The breath becomes almost automatic with the manifestation of naturally deep inhalations and exhalations. There is no longer the feeling that “I breathe” but it is more the feeling that “It breathes” that becomes dominant. (YS II.51) The mind is focused on something subtler - a deep inner peace of being absolutely one with the breath. This is the fourth state of pranayama.

Finally, a mature pranayama practice certainly helps to stabilize the mind, to master the senses and to prepare for meditation. It generally corresponds to the third stage of life in Yoga – the Antyah Krama.

V: The models used in breathing control

The 5 vayus: prana, apana, samana, udhâna, vyana

The practice of breathing is greatly improved when supported with an understanding of the model of the different winds (vayus) in the body. Each vayu has a specific location and symbolizes specific functions.

Prana is a general word that represents the breath and the energy of the breath. Prana vayu is the main location where prana accumulates in the body. It is located in the chest area, over the diaphragm. Energy accumulates in the body through the control of inhalation and holding after inhalation.

Apana vayu is the area of the body where the main eliminatory functions are performed. APANA means “that which eliminates”, representing all the eliminatory functions (elimination of solids, liquids and perspiration). Apana certainly plays a vital role, because without proper elimination, the body accumulates impurities.

Samana vayu
is the Wind responsible for digestion. We need air and fire to produce the burning flame of digestion. Samana also includes the function of distributing the nutrients. Too much fire is also observable in the temper and attitude of an overly zealous practitioner.

Udâna vayu
is responsible for communication and elevation. One who meditates on this wind acquires the quality of being understood by everyone.

Vyâna vayu is the adequate circulation of pranic energy everywhere in the body. This energy is responsible for our sensations in all parts of the body; it is our link to the sensation of touch. Vyana takes consciousness to all limbs of the body. A defective vyana vayu may cause paralysis; prana is not flowing properly in the affected region.

The model of the 5 vayus can be the basis of a bhavana and can support concentration during breathing.

VI: Four applications of pranayama

The ancient yogis recognized four main applications for pranayama.

Siddhi is the application of pranayama by which one wants to achieve special powers and qualities. Yoga Sutra chap. III covers this matter thoroughly. The strong desire to reach a goal may at the same time become an obstacle to clarity and peace of mind.

Rakshana is the application of pranayama for becoming less vulnerable and more resistant to any form of enemy. It confers confidence and protection and is recognized to prevent anxiety. Yoga Sutra II.16 “Heyam duhkham anagatam” represents the concept that it is not always possible to avoid suffering but one should be well prepared so that the suffering does not become too intense. The actual result is that we suffer less. Prana nourishes all the bodies (5 layers of a person), the emotional body as well as the physical one. A proper concentration of Prana is said to prevent illness of all kinds. Pranayama is prevention; Rakshana means maintaining the health at an optimal level.

Cikitsa is the application of pranayama for healing. It helps remove illness and reduce suffering. It may not mean complete cure of a disease but will certainly contribute to the reduction of some form of suffering. One example of application of cikitsa pranayama is to help pregnant women to treat anxiety problems. Cikitsa pranayama is useful when people are sick and cannot do asana. Pranayama still helps them to relax the mind and create a strong relationship with their body.

Âdhyâtmika is the application of pranayama that leads to personal transformation through the long-term practice of the techniques. Like a student of the violin who first has to learn the notes and the scales before being able to express the subtle emotions of a symphony; a pranayama practitioner has first to master the techniques and then the true seeker will continue pranayama for the sake of personal transformation. Pranayama is the best preparation for meditation. One who masters the breath will eventually master self transformation.

VII: Conclusion

Pranayama is the best tool of energy control for a yogi. The one who masters energy masters everything. This energy is provided to us by something, a “Higher Being” for some, a “Higher Force” for others.

According to Professor T. Krishnamacharya, there are two meaning to the word pranayama. The first one is Prana and Yama: the control of the breath and prana energy. The second one is Prana and Ayama: the lengthening of the breath – this is the sure way to control the energy of life.

The indication that we are on the right path with pranayama is that our breath should become VISVÂSA – the quality of breathing we have when we are with someone we trust - our breath becomes absolutely comfortable and prana is our servant.

Every breath is the expression of life. The first thing we do when we born is inhaling… the last thing we do when we die, is exhaling. The most profound knowledge attainable with the practice of breathing in Yoga is probably the knowledge of Life itself. Happy and peaceful is the pranayama practitioner who has reached that level.

This Article is based on the teachings of TKV Desikachar and Kausthub Desikachar from 1999 to 2006, especially from a yoga seminar in Montreal about pranayama, in April 2005, in Canada. This article is written by Daniel Pineault, student of Kausthub Desikachar, May 2007.
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Maggie Reagh
Thank you so much for your article! It is crystal clear in its presentation. My only question still is why Sri Krishnamacharya incorporated pranayama with asana so clearly when the Sutras suggests we must master asana to a certain level before starting pranayama? Any ideas to share on this query would be most appreciated. Again, thank you so much for your excellent contribution to this topic.
Sarah Ryan
I think this article is excellent in its exposition and comprehensiveness. I wish to reply to m.hemert's comment, which I find difficult to understand. Of course the word "breath" is not mentioned - Patanjali was not writing in English. He uses the term "pranayama" (II. 29 and 49) for breathing control; pranasya (I.34)which is the genitive of prana, meaning breath, or life force; and svasaprasvasa (I.31) for breathing.
I noticed that mr Patantjali never mentioned the word "breath" in his sutra's, so probably your article is completly incorrect.
good, well done
Erlinda Nye
Thank you Daniel for the refreshing article about yoga breathing. Very well-written and informative.
Nrithya Jagannathan
A comprehensive article on the role and relevance of breathing in the practice of yoga. There is a lot of information given in a mannerthat is easy to comprehend.
Nrithya Jagannathan
A comprehensive article on the role and relevance of breathing in the practice of yoga. There is a lot of information given in a mannerthat is easy to comprehend.