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Pranayama is critical before beginning Yoga Asanas

Pranayama - Comprehensive Guide

A lot of us don’t get the sequence of Yoga right or are trying out Yoga poses based on YouTube videos. In my experience, Yoga asanas are meant to be done and learned under the guidance of a trained professional or instructor. Otherwise, you can get the sequence wrong.

Before any Yoga sequence, it’s important to get the breathwork right. This can happen through the practice of Pranayama. In a general sequence, I’d practice natural breathing, followed by abdominal breathing, kapalbhati, and followed by anulom vilom (or alternate nostril breathing). This at the beginning of your Yoga sequence can get the breathwork right.

Pranayama consists of two roots: ‘prana’ plus ‘ayama’. Prana means ‘vital energy’ or ‘life force’. Ayama is defined as ‘extension’ or ‘expansion’. It essentially means the expansion of one’s life force. However, it’s contrary to what’s been defined as a sequence in Patanjali’s Yoga sutras. In the Yoga sutras, Pranayama comes after Yoga asanas.

In most modern sequences such as the Sivananda Yoga sequence, you’ll see pranayama right at the beginning. It’s essentially to get the breathing pattern in control before you get in to yoga poses/sequences.

One of the primary differentiators of Yoga vs other aerobic exercises is the stress it pays on the breathing pattern. If you are getting started with Yoga and are looking to do a proper Yoga sequence, get the breathwork right. In most modern apps on Yoga (free and paid), you won’t find the breathing pattern incorporated in their sequence. This essentially means that your ability to get the breathwork right when you are doing Yoga will be fairly limited and hence the benefits of Yoga that can be experienced by you will also be limited.

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