October 27, 2010 on 10:00 am
Dear Spiritual Explorer: Could you speak of the benefits of pranayama? Anita S., Birmingham, AL
Light on Pranayama by Iyengar
Dear Anita: Yoga is nothing without pranayama. In fact, according to B.K. Iyengar in Light on Pranayama, it is the very soul of yoga. The normal rate of breathing is 21, 600 times every 24 hours and since pranayama lengthens the time taken by each in and out breath, it thereby slows down the process of aging and leads to a longer life. This statement seems simplistic and yet profound at the same time. Iyengar, long known as one of the most knowledgeable masters of yoga (see Light on Yoga), taught the different poses of yoga with but a “peep”into pranayama. Here in Light on Pranayama, the promise contained in that book comes to fruition.
Light on Pranayama is an important book, not only because it expresses in a very lucid manner all forms of pranayama and what the practice hopes to achieve, but during this time of environmental concern, Iyengar points out that breath as well as water and the earth, will be amongst those things most valued and cultivated in this and the next centuries.
The science of pranayama not only forestalls the advance of age, but gives practitioners a realistic guide to achieving the wishes for if not immortality, but a healthy old age. The search to achieve a longer, healthier life will eventually be seen as not just a discipline of ingesting vitamins and minerals or attempting some form of arduous exercise, but the use of the simple breath available to all. The rewards will be both practical and mystical. The chapter of Pranayama and the Respiratory System, complete with accurate drawings of the physical system, precedes and amplifies the chapter on the Chakra and Nadis System; thus we see Iyengar’s depth and knowledge of both the mystical and the physiological systems of the body.
What I love about Iyengar’s Light on Pranayama is that while yogic teachers refer to it as the Bible of pranayama, it is actually very accessible and simply written for the western mind. That was Iyengar’s desire, to simply relate the reasons why pranayama is such a necessity. Myriad examples abound in this book of how to practice the different types of pranayama, and it is replete with illustrations of the correct methods.
Pranayama is the wave of the future. Ride it now!
Thanks for writing. Spiritual Explorer
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