We are excited to share this reflection from Leslie on her recent pranayama training!
In late September 2021, I participated in a 14-hour Pranayama training offered through the Asheville Yoga Center. Leaders of the training were Joe Taft, a lead teacher at AYC, and Sundar Balasubramarian, Ph.D. and research scientist in the field of integrated oncology at the Medical University of South Carolina. Sundar has found many ways in which the yoga breathing practices of his native India have therapeutic application with American patients being treated for serious medical conditions such as cancer and lung disease.
The instructors expanded my understanding of the respiratory diaphragm “our primary breathing muscle,” and the nose “a miracle organ.” We talked about the health risks of mouth breathing and the value of slowing down the breath, both for nervous system control and to allow the carbon dioxide in our breath to work properly with the oxygen in our system.
Lectures and scientific discussions were well balanced with practice time led by Joe. We practiced seated pranayama in many forms but also were guided on how to incorporate a breathing focus into more active asana poses.
The most interesting aspect of the training for me was the discussion about the ways breath can affect bodily functions. I am convinced that breath awareness carries tremendous health benefits to us all. I look forward to bringing more teaching focus on breath both as separate Pranayama practice and as a part of the standard poses in my basics yoga classes. As Joe said several times during our training session, we as yogis must be “open to the power of a slow, conscious breath.”