A simple pranayama practice shared by Laura Gilmore

How to Practice Pranayama
Pranayama is often the neglected sibling of asana, perhaps partly because in teacher training, we are busy getting the asana sorted, and don’t pay so much attention to breath-practice. However once your asana practice is stable, pranayama really accelerates the transformation and peace of mind you may already have noticed from your asana practice.
Here’s a simple practice which you can develop over time, which explores all 4 parts of the breath cycle: the inhale, the pause after the inhale, the exhale and the pause after the exhale. We start with the in and out breath and then if you feel it works for you, add the pauses in.

1. Stage one– even in an out breath (sama vritti)

Sit relax and upright, steady the ujjayi breath, start to make the in and out breath even. Using a metronome if you prefer, or just an inward count, even out the in and out breath. Continue for about 10-20 cycles.

2. Stage two– add the pause after the inhale

Now let the breath be a little shorter, so the inhale and exhale are perhaps just a slow but steady count of 4 or 6- something that feels super comfy. And after the inhale, pause of the same amount of time
e.g.
Inhale, 2-3-4
Pause 2-3-4
Softly exhale 2-3-4
Inhale 2-3-4 etc.
Assess the quality of the breath it should feel smooth and even. Without rushing or strain, keeping the face soft, and throat and tongue relaxed.
Continue for 10 rounds
If this causes any stress go back to normal breath.

3. Stage three.

If this feels comfy, keeping the same rhythm add a pause also after the exhalation. Because each the 4 parts of the breath cycle is even, its almost as if you are breathing in a square shape, inhale up one side of the square, pause across the top, exhale down, pause across the bottom.
Inhale, 2-3-4
Pause 2-3-4
Softly exhale 2-3-4
Pause 2-3-4
Inhale 2-3-4
etc.
Assess the quality of the breath it should feel smooth and even. Without rushing or strain, keeping the face soft, and throat and tongue relaxed.
Continue for 10 rounds
If this causes any stress go back to normal breath.
After another 10-20 breath cycles release from any effort or management of the breath. Sit quietly, you may find meditation comes relatively easily after the pranayama.
Enjoy your practice and do get in touch with Laura if you need help with pranayama practice.
Further pranayama practice and teaching tips coming up at the Subtle Body intensive this Dec.
Posted on November 13, 2018