Pranayama, breathwork, is the 4th limb of yoga. Often you’ll hear a yoga instructor guide you to breathe.
And you may have been wondering – why? What does that have to do with stretching?
Breath is an essential part of yoga practice. When we bring attention to breath, we are not only developing that inner awareness skill (Pratyahara / Interoception), we are also working into the subtle body.
Through regular practice, intentional guided breath can improve physiological conditions related to breath including snoring, blocked nasal passages, and allergies. And that’s just the beginning, guided breath can do so much more, helping the body heal, grow, developing new neural pathways, helping calm and relax the nervous system, and so much more.
However, I say all that with a bit of caution: breathwork can be very stirring. You need a strong container of support and well established resiliency skills to develop regular breathwork practice. This is why we bring it into an asana-based (physical) yoga class. In pairing with the physical movements, we bring attention and guidance to breath with structure and support.
IMPORTANT: This practice is not recommended for someone who has experienced complex trauma and is early in their healing and recovery. If you find it difficult to follow along with guided breath, speak with your doctor or therapist.