By Megan Doyle

The only prerequisite to a yoga practice is your ability to breathe. Breath brings fuel in the form of air and prana (life force) into the body and removes waste through the lungs.

Pranayama is a set of techniques that alter the natural breath rhythm in order to produce specific results: calming or stimulating, grounding or expanding. It is often used in modern Mindfulness programs to develop the qualities necessary for meditation.

The most important elements to a pranayama practice are compassion, patience and simplicity. As you begin you may notice an interest in rushing. You may feel your breath tightening. Or the mind telling you this is really pointless.Notice these distractions and continue to breathe. If you’re breath is strained, you’ve pushed it too far. Back off and continue.

Take a few moments in the morning to sit with a straight spine (scoot your bum to the edge of a chair if sitting erect on the floor isn’t comfortable.) Spend five minutes simply deepening your inhale and lengthening your exhale. You can do this by counting.

As you inhale, think, ‘inhaling, one, two, three.’
As you exhale, think, ‘exhaling, one, two, three.’
Take a few breaths at this length, then count to four, then five, then six.

You can beautify this a bit if you like:
Inhale: I feel my breath; Exhale: I feel my breath.’
Then, Inhale: I feel my smooth breath; Exhale: I feel my smooth breath.’
Then, Inhale: I feel my smooth, slow breath; Exhale: I feel my smooth, slow breath.’

The next day, see if you can lengthen your practice to six, seven or eight minutes. (Setting a timer is helpful!)

When you’re done, sit for a moment and notice how you feel. Then sign up for our Breath & Asana Workshop on July 15!