In your average yoga class found in most parts of the world today, great attention is given to how to do postures, with often little attention to specific breathing patterns or awareness beyond the experience of Ujjai.  The postures, contrary to popular belief, have historically been a small part of yoga, or at least not considered as the primary focus or goal of practice, but merely a preparation for something more.

Postures are fun and and exciting as they are an attractive way to lasso our attention and efforts into a practice we all know has many many benefits.  However, postures in their most significant understanding are simply forms we create with the body and then attentively and specifically breathe life into, creating a resuscitation of the primal forces of life and their movements known as Prana Vayu. Therefore, the deepest benefits of an asana practice are a direct result of the way the postures effect movement of breath in the body. They are not not necessarily the result of physical accomplishments received from a challenging pose.  Yes, we get a great deal of satisfaction knowing we have control over the body and its faculties to perform difficult and demanding poses. But often when we strive for high levels of physical achievement we lose sight of the breath and quite possibly have stopped breathing altogether. As satisfying as a strong posture driven class may be, a conscious and methodical system of breathing is essential, and should remain one of the quintessential elements of a yoga practice.

by Everett Newell

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