Learning to breathe deeply and steadily on your mat can transfer to other situations in life. About three and a half years ago, I began working for an aerial dance company in Vancouver called Aeriosa Dance Society. “Going to the office” for us means a day of flying through the air, using the vertical surfaces of buildings as our dance floor.
Is it fun? Yes! Exhilarating? Yes! Hard on the adrenal system? Yes.
I definitely feel fear in my body, but know how to breathe through it. Here’s what I’ve learned about how to harness air through my aerial work andmy yoga practice.
I have taken a number of courses in Pranayama and it has been a true gift. Pranayama is a bridge between Asanas (postures) and meditation.
Studying with an experienced teacher is highly recommended for beginning this work. Without a guide, it would be easy to feel overwhelmed or anxious because of the extra energy Pranayama can summon.
If you’d like to deepen your understanding of this, Light on Pranayamaby B.K.S. Iyengar is a captivating book . In the foreword, Iyengar’s student and violin virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin writes:
“[Mr. Iyengar] teaches us in line with the ancient Indian philosophy that life is not only dust to dust, but air to air, that, as with the process of fire, matter is transformed into heat, light and radiation from which we may gather strength.”
In Iyengar Yoga we usually practice Pranayama separately from Asana, learning to observe the breath’s subtle yet powerful effects. Pranayama teaches us how to open our body from the inside, delicately, without unnecessary tension seeping in. If you’re anything like me, after a Pranayama practice you’ll probably feel like you’ve been on retreat, or hiking through a lush rain forest: alert yet calm; mentally and physically refreshed — the perfect state to leap back into the world!
Meghan Goodman is a professional dancer and Vancouver yoga instructor with Vinyasa training from Flow Yoga. She is currently working towards a certification in Iyengar yoga under the guidance of training teacher Louie Ettling. Meghan teaches regularly at Flow Yoga, East Side Yoga and Green Room Yoga. For more information on classes, to book a workshop or private session, please visitwww.meghangoodman.wordpress.com