Pranayama keeps me sane. On the days that I miss the practice I know I am more irritable, less patient and far less compassionate towards others.
I have been practicing Pranayama for well over 20 years and I never ceased to be amazed at the power of pranayama to keep me mentally and emotionally on track.
Most people find Pranayama difficult. I certainly did. It has taken me a very long time to be content with each practice.
At first I pushed myself beyond my capacity. My chest was quite closed and there was not the elasticity in the diaphragm to allow my lungs to expand. I would became irritable and dispirited and wonder whether it was worth the effort.
I started practicing Pranayama lying down as is recommended and taught in Iyengar Yoga. I had enjoyed Savasana and found that I could talk my body on the whole into relaxing. Of course some days were better than others.
But when it came to lengthening the exhalation in supported Savasana I remember being totally shocked at how difficult that was. My exhalation seemed so short. I couldn’t understand at all the mechanism for lengthening my inhalation. My teacher would instruct me to “breath into the bottom side ribs” and keep the abdomen passive. Both seemed impossible.
I am pleased that I kept practicing because my breath has become my friend and like a good friend has kept me honest. Mindfulness on my breath has helped me understand myself better and it has allowed me to feel connected to the wider universe.The various breathing practices give me energy as they deliver blood to every part of my body. But most of all I love and appreciate how they quieten my mind, how they help me relax and remain humble. I am in awe of their power to show me the way towards a healthy and happy life.