systematic practice

Pranayama - what is it and why do we practice it?

In my first yoga teacher training, despite the best efforts of our tutors, I now know (though I didn't at the time) that I just didn't "get" pranayama.  It felt too slow and I often ended up gasping and having to take extra breaths.  But in 2001 I  discovered that Philip Xerri was going to run his year-long Pranayama Foundation Course in Edinburgh.  It's not an exaggeration to say that it completely changed my practice - and of course my mind, which is intimately connected with the breath.  Philip himself encountered  pranayama originally with Phil Jones in Wales, and went on to train in India with Swami Gitananda.  Philip would tell us stories of how Phil, an ex- miner, survived on very little remaining lung tissue because of his pranayama practice.  Philip gave us a daily practice schedule, building up progressively,  that would often take 45 minutes.  Three quarters of...

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