Pranayama as the release, not the restraint, of the breath

I’m in the middle of listening to a Sounds True interview with Leslie Kaminoff — he was among the yogis who took down the author of the yoga is bad for you article at the New York Yoga Journal Conference — and he said one (of many) thing interesting.


He noted that the Sanskrit word pranayama really has a long “a” in the middle, one that renders it more “prana ayama.”

And as any sanskrit scholar will tell you, you put an “a” in front of a word in that language and it negates it or turns it to its opposite.

We all know “yama” from our eight limbs: a general way to define it is as “restraint.” It’s the things you don’t do. Don’t steal. Don’t harm.

But what’s the opposite of that? Don’t restrain. Or “release.”

And Kaminoff suggests that is a way to approach or think about pranayama. Think about the release and not so much the control, or the hold, or the retention.

Food for breath thought.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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