500 hour yoga instructor training programBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

The ancient Yogis say that controlling the breath allows a Yoga practitioner to control and still the vrittis or fluctuating thought waves in the mind. As we learn to control our breath through pranayama practices, our minds follow suit. Uncontrolled thoughts can lead to anxious and negative internal states of being that drain us of our life force energy and perpetuate negative behavioral patterns. Long term negative thought patterns can also lower the functioning of the immune system, leaving a Yogi or Yogini more vulnerable to developing chronic diseases.


Pantanjali, one of the most revered Yogis of all time, held the practice of pranayama or breathing exercises in high regard. So much so, that he regarded pranayama exercises as one of the most fundamental practices of Yoga. According to Pantanjali, the essence of all Yoga practice is to yoke and melt the mind, heart and soul into the divine. A frantic, anxious and undisciplined mind will prevent your students from sinking into the divine bliss that dwells in the cave of their own hearts. Slowing down and stilling the thought waves in the mind will afford your students the opportunity to experience the divine light pulsating within their own being.

Regularly including pranayama exercises into your Yoga classes will help your students to rest in stillness by systematically calming the mind and harmonizing the discordant nature of their thoughts. Pranayama exercises will also help your students to witness their thoughts while affording them the opportunity to let go of thinking patterns that do not bring them peace, energy, creativity, happiness or joy. By regularly including breathing exercises into your Yoga classes, your students will reap the benefits of a well-rounded practice that will generate feelings of well-being, physical health and emotional clarity.


An easy way to include pranayama exercises into your Yoga classes it to begin or end each class with a brief period of meditation or contemplation and five minutes of simple breathing exercises. Even five minutes of deep breathing will help to calm, center and energize your students. Dirga Pranayama, or Three Part Breath, is an easy pranayama exercise that will center the mind and balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. For detailed instructions on how to practice and teach Dirga Pranayama, please refer to a professional Yoga teacher training website or manual.

© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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