Rumor has it that when B.K.S. Iyengar’s daughter Geeta asked him to teach her pranayama, he said, “Go practice Savasana (Corpse Pose) for 10 years. Then we’ll begin.” So, the road to learning pranayama starts with relaxation. Then you move on to breath awareness—of assessing what is in the way of your natural breath. Finally, there are many pranayama techniques that will keep you engaged for the rest of your life.
If you practice without a teacher, red flags that you’ve gone too far are as follows: tearing of the eyes, ringing in the ears, shaky handwriting, irritability, and anxiousness. All of these are signs that you need to do less—that you might want to consider resting in Savasana. It is important to be honest and accept the feedback your body gives you. It’s necessary to check in periodically with a proficient teacher who knows you well and has an extensive pranayama practice of their own (a daily pranayama practice for at least 10 years). The following sequence will help you relax, observe obstacles to peace (both internal and external), and prepare the diaphragm for deep breathing.
WANT TO LEARN PRANAYAMA WITH RODNEY?
Yoga Journal’s new online Master Class program brings the wisdom of world-renowned teachers to your home-practice space, offering access to exclusive workshops with a different master teacher every six weeks. This month, Rodney Yee teaches how to practice basic pranayama techniques from Urban Zen Integrative Therapy. If you’re ready to get a fresh perspective—and maybe even meet a lifelong mentor—sign up for YJ’s yearlong membership at yogajournal.com/masterclass.