Pranayama: Preparations and Beginnings - Iyengar Yoga | iHanuman


Love, Service, Devotion, Yoga

Pranayama: Preparations and Beginnings

Welcome to the iHanuman Digital Download Store! Enjoy Incredible Classes, Workshops, Lectures and Training Videos to assist your Daily Practice. We Contribute AT LEAST 5% of EVERY Sale to Charitable Organizations. Learn More...


Pranayama is the yogic art and science of breathing. Even more, it is the practice of refining awareness of the life force, prana, which animates the material universe. Through the various pranayamas, this vital energy is directed toward the process of purifying and transforming the body, mind, and energy of the practitioner.

Regular practice of asana, yoga postures, over time is highly recommended to prepare for the more subtle practice of pranayama. Because quietness and receptivity are crucial and proper sitting is challenging, in the Iyengar tradition, we begin pranayama practice lying down. To help create space in the chest, lie on one or two blankets, approximately 4-6 inches high and 12-18 inches wide. From the middle of the lower back (the lumbar spine) to the top of the head, you should feel comfortably supported, as seen on the album cover.

Elevate your head 2-4 inches so that your face is tilted slightly down toward your body without any pressure or tension in your throat. Your practice will be much more effective if you do it on an empty stomach, in a quiet place with fresh air. It is essential throughout your practice that you avoid tension or strain. If you experience anxiety or shortness of breath, you are exceeding your capacity and should seek guidance from an experienced pranayama teacher.

by: Beth Cholette
This 55-minute audio offering from Iyengar yoga instructor John Schumacher provides a thorough introduction to pranayama, the practice of yogic breathing. As Schumacher explains, prana refers to life force, and so pranayama techniques are intended to help the yoga practitioner attain greater control over this energy and its effects on the body. It is generally recommended that students have a strong foundation in yoga asana (postures) prior to establishing a pranayama practice.This practice consists of 15 total chapters. In his introduction, Schumacher encourages the practitioner to perform the exercises lying down in a relaxed position, and in fact the session actually begins with savasana (relaxation or corpse pose). Following this, Schumacher introduces the concept of breath awareness, encouraging the listener to feel the movement of the breath going through the body. Once this increased consciousness has been established, Schumacher moves into the first actual pranayama technique, Conditioned Breath (Ujjayi I). Here the practitioner will use their new-found awareness of the breath to move the breath into particular areas of the body. Using the hands as tools for perception, Schumacher instructs the listener to place the hands on the lower ribs and to feel the breath moving in and out of this region. Schumacher ends this first practice segment with a 2.5-minute savasana designed to reestablish an even in and out breath pattern.The next pranayama practice is Viloma. Schumacher translates Viloma as “against the hair [grain],” which refers to the fact that the breath is interrupted when practicing this technique. He states that the purpose of this is both to move the breath to certain parts of the chest as well as to elongate the breath. The first Viloma practice is a 3-part segmented breath with pauses, a style of breathing that may already be familiar to more experienced yoga practitioners. In order to prepare for the Viloma practice, Schumacher again guides the listener through breath awareness to begin, then leads the 5.5-minute initial Viloma exercise. Next comes a second round of Viloma, this time adding a 4th segment. Schumacher cautions the listener to stop if feeling any strain, reminding one not to force the breath. In the Introduction to Exhalation (Rechaka) segment, Schumacher introduces the technique of Ujjayi exhalation, a smooth, vocal exhale. The Viloma is then repeated with relaxed exhales, and lastly, there is a short final savasana to conclude the session.Using a soft, soothing voice, Schumacher gently guides you through this practice. He provides excellent instruction, moving slowly enough to allow the listener plenty of time to become fully aware of the breath. Furthermore, the entire session offers a nice mix of active breathing practice—which can be a bit strenuous at times, especially for those new to pranayama techniques—and guided relaxation segments. I would highly recommend this audio to any experienced yoga practitioner who would like to establish a pranayama practice.
Pranayama: Preparations and Beginnings
Album Runtime: 
55 minutes
Album style: 
Practice Type: 
Practice Level: 
Album Genre: 

Receive a Heartfelt, Inspired Newsletter with Special Features, Seasonal Updates, and Coupon Codes for Use with Our Yoga Downloads.