Sunday mornings, Sue and I typically attend the 10:00 am Hatha Yoga class at the Yogashakti ashram in South Ozone Park, NY. It is a wonderful community led by Mokshapriya Shakti. One of the most endearing things about this class is that most of the participants hang around afterward for chai tea and cookies, which further enhances the community feeling of the class.
The yoga is then followed by a Sunshine Lecture, which is an hour-long presentation by Mokshapriya on some aspect of yoga, spirituality or community activities. Today was the second of a 3-part series on Pranayam – breathing exercises. The variety of different breathing techniques in yoga is amazing and each has a different benefit. In addition to oxygen, it is also a key means to bring prana – life force – into the body.
Breathing is something most of us rarely think about or even pay attention that we’re actually doing it. When you become conscious of your breathing, you are on your way to having a more peaceful journey.
I practice a little pranayam in my daily morning routine, in addition to meditation and yoga. The technique I use is known as Happy Breathing, which is an alternate-nostril breathing exercise.
I almost didn’t attend the lecture today as I’m still feeling a little under the weather and the yoga class was a little more energetic than usual. Although a hot shower and mug of dark roast were beckoning me, I opted to stay and attend today’s Sunshine Lecture.
The session opened with the usual centering and chanting. Then, we all listened ardently as Mokshapriya enlightened us with a new aspect of the yoga universe. (Well, new to me anyway).
The definition of Vayus per Yoga International: The yoga tradition describes five movements or functions of prana known as the vayus – literally “winds”. These five vayus govern different areas of the body and different physical and subtle activities. When they’re functioning harmoniously, they assure the health and vitality of the body and mind, allowing us to enjoy our unique talents and live life with meaning and purpose.
During the lecture, we were invited to practice some of the breathing techniques. One in particular, had us lying on our backs and consciously breathing into the lower portion of the lungs, then the middle and finally the upper. It was an empowering exercise – until I got the hiccups and it took everything I had to not disrupt those around me. Hey, yoga is fun too. In our classes, we all laugh a lot, which is an essential contribution to our vitality.
Focused & intentional breathing, coupled with yoga asanas helps to ensure this harmony and can only contribute to a more fulfilling journey.