Tag Archive for: Breathing

Axis Yoga Trainings of Denver, Colorado - Yoga Teacher Training 200-Hour Program

Yoga beyond poses consists of your breath

Most of us know yoga through the postures.  Perhaps we have even heard the Sanskrit word “prana” mentioned in class, though this is the exception to the rule.  Traditionally speaking, the pranic-force is fundamental to yoga practice (including the postures) and is as essential as sunlight is to a plant.

The word itself is commonly translated as “vital-force” or even “the breath”.  Prana is a much larger idea than that. A more literal translation of the word means “the first breath”.  It is the first, primal, all pervading, energizing force of the creation. The sun is imbued with prana, the plants and animals possess prana, the air is rich in prana.

The ancient yogis readily perceived this pranic energy and found ways to maximize its influence on our physical health, mental clarity and spiritual development.  Many of the techniques that are commonly used today, such as asana, pranayama and even meditation are build around pranic principles (whether we actively recognize it or not).

The very name sake of hatha yoga, the system of yoga that is the genesis of many modern poses, is in reference to the prana and its relationship to the mind. Through specific breathing techniques or prana-yama, we can affect specific states of mind; states of mind that are more conducive to deeper states of peace, joy and fulfillment.  Yoga practice uses the pranic force to affect powerful changes in our physical health and psyche.

We can also apply the principles of prana to our asana practice by simple becoming more deliberate about our breathing. Take time in your poses to recognize the quality of your breath, to make it smooth and purposeful.  The quality of your breath will powerfully shape the quality of your practice.

The more attentive you are to the quality of your breathing during asana practice the more powerful the effect will be.  By listening to the quality of our breathing we will know if we are applying ourself too much or not enough.    Classically speaking, the postures are thought to be an instrument to access the formulation of the breath, rather than being an end unto themselves.  Aim to have minimal hitches or rough spots in the breath.

I invite you to integrate these principles into your next asana, pranayama or meditation session.  Become more and more aware of the subtle power and influence of the pranic force within all of these practices.  Or better yet, learn about how to more skillfully apply pranic power to your poses this weekend at Axis’ monthly workshop!

Yours in the Spirit, Tradition and Service of Yoga,


Yoga & Prana Class March 19th

Perhaps we have heard the word “prana” mentioned in a yoga class in reference to the breath, but it is much more than that. What does it mean? How does it relate to yoga and how can it add exponential depth to one’s practice? Come find out the answer to these questions and more as we learn about this essential and often overlooked dimension of yoga practice.

Sunday, March 19th. 9:30-11:30
3250 E. Sixth Ave. UCC ~ Upstairs
Suggested Donation ($15-20)



With a flurry of media messages promoting “exclusive offers” and the next “hot item”, it can be hard to believe that we already have all we need to feel peaceful, content and balanced. But we do. And our breath is our greatest tool for achieving that life. The following paper, written by an Axis Yoga Teacher Training student, is an example of how our breath can significantly change the quality of our lives. Students have the opportunity to conduct experiments to experience the effects of Yogic and Ayurvedic principles to their own lives. This student’s experiment resulted in wonderful awareness of our own power.

Since beginning a regular practice of belly breathing, I feel less anxious and much calmer. In a stressful situation, when I start to feel the gripping feelings of anxiety, I find that stopping and taking a few minutes for belly breathing allows me to temporarily remove myself from a troubling situation and clear my mind as I focus on the inhale and exhale, the rise and fall of the abdomen. It alleviates many of the feelings of fear and relaxes my mind so that I can view the situation from a better perspective and allow myself to make more balanced decisions from a calmer and more even place.
Belly breathing has allowed me to feel more relaxed and less physically tense throughout the day. My muscles have generally not ached or felt heavy as often. I have experienced less nervous stomach aches and feel as though I have more energy, which could be due to the better blood flow and increased oxygen that diaphragmatic breathing exercises are known to produce. The energized feelings could also be attributed to feeling generally calmer as anxiety and stress seem to use much more energy than calm and tranquility. I have noticed that my breathing patterns during my Asana and Sadhana practices have improved and I am able to concentrate on my breath more easily than before. As an added benefit, I believe my abdominal muscles feel stronger.
This experiment has shown me that, belly breathing is always available when needed and it provides immediate and long-term positive outcomes with ongoing benefits to my health and wellbeing, as opposed to the negativity and unhealthiness that distress and anxiety can bring. At times when I feel worried and unsettled, I am learning that if I can stop and even take one or two deep breaths, I can readjust my thinking and be in a much better place. This experiment has made me reflect on a quote from the Dutch writer Corrie ten Boom, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.”
Adding regular belly breathing and alternate nostril breathing practices to my morning routine has proved a wonderfully calming start to my day. As the day wears on, belly breathing helps me to feel much more relaxed and better able to cope with the odd stressful situations that seem to develop throughout the day. By adding belly breathing and alternate nostril breathing to my nighttime routine, I have less trouble falling asleep and my sleep has been much better with fewer interruptions. Overall, I feel calmer and experience longer periods of peacefulness and serenity than prior to the start of the Ayurveda experiment.