Have you ever wondered what the Friday Pranayama Class is about? This blog post is written by long term student of the school, Magella Lajoie, who has been regularly attending this class for the past 6 years, and considers it an essential part of her weekly routine.
My name is Magella Lajoie and I have been a student of Central Yoga School since 2006. For the past 6 years I have been attending the Friday morning Pranayama Class. It consists of a small group of devoted regulars. Pranayama is the harnessing and distributing of the body’s bioenergy, or life force, via the breath, and its conscious breathing techniques have been transformative in different aspects of my life.
Despite being a pranayama class there is a lot of asana work done in the classes. These poses usually involve a lot of interesting use of props, doing postures that help to quieten the mind and open the chest, and a lot of poses that are not taken in the regular classes. One of the joys of pranayama classes is the practice of asanas with the teacher’s instructions focused on the breath. Conscious breathing allows me to settle and find a little more. It allows me to hold poses for longer and more thoughtfully because it gives me added time and space to draw together the connections of the pose. It doesn’t enable me to do poses I cannot do eg arm balances; but it allows me to explore further the poses I can do eg inversions. As on overly-thinking person, the in-breaths and out-breaths give me access to different parts of my body in different poses that thinking alone doesn’t. I like how the in-breath reminds me to open my chest in each asana and the out-breath to stay grounded. I suspect pranayama has helped me with developing and maintaining a home practice too.
In my day to day life the different techniques of discovering and connecting with the breath alone is a worthwhile discovery. As it helps with asanas, it helps with everyday life. Pranayama gives me an extra tool to pause and reflect. I’m still working on remembering to use that tool when life is the most difficult or when things take me by surprise. Hopefully with practice, it will become automatic. Finally in my work as both a therapist and an educator I have used elements of pranayama to help others. As an example bhastrika, or the bumblebee breath, I have used with children who are in a panic. Viloma II, or focusing on the exhalations, I have used with adults who suffer anxiety. I’ve also taught it to colleagues who have found it useful in their work.
All in all I think the Friday morning Pranayama Class is a wonderful part of the Central Yoga School timetable and a must for any serious student of the subject.