From Pranayama To Breathwork (Fainting YOur Way To Mindfulness)

I remember 10 years ago when I started teaching pranayama-only classes at the yoga retreats I used to work at, the reception was pretty mixed. Most of the time I had only 1 or 2 students joining in to learn these powerful breathing and breath holding exercises, compared to the 10 or so students who were attending my yoga postures’ classes on a daily basis.

Today pranayama has been renamed breathwork and has become the new milk cow of the yoga industry. While breathwork has gained significant attention in recent years as a powerful tool for managing stress and promote well-being, the original intention of pranayama being practiced as a preparation for concentration, a bridge between the physical practices and the mental practices of yoga, is rarely mentioned.

As a result modern yoga practitioners are now moving away from chasing handstands to chasing breath holds. Hyperventilation is being taught as a trick to make beginners hold their breath for a long time and impress themselves. Hypoxia and its symptoms like dizziness, convulsions, and fainting are being passed as some kind of spiritual occurrence.

To the dedicated yogis searching for a deeper meaning of life and enlightenment, save yourself a lifetime of strict penance. Just faint your way to mindfulness.

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