A Guide to Teaching Pranayama Breathwork for Yoga Instructors

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Teaching pranayama to your students is highly beneficial, but as an instructor, do you have the right tools and knowledge to teach them properly? Have you any idea which breathing exercises will upregulate or downregulate the nervous system?

And do you know how to incorporate pranayama techniques effectively into your yoga class? Or do you always doubt yourself and don’t really understand the concept behind this specialized technique?

Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about breathing practices and it is finally time that you clear the concepts for yourself.

We compiled a short guide to help you in teaching pranayama breathwork to your students. This guide is part of our Pranayama and Power Center certification which you can complete under continuing education.

So without further ado, let’s begin.

What Goes into Your Body When you Breathe?

  • There is a lot of talk about oxygenating the body in yoga with pranayama, but in reality, the blood-oxygen levels change very little with this technique. Even more interesting is the fact that what carbon dioxide does to our body during the technique.

When you slow down and take a deep breath, the carbon dioxide starts to accumulate in the body. This increase of CO2 leads the body to become vasodilator and a bronchial dilator which basically opens the air passage.

  • After this, the blood starts to absorb oxygen on a better level especially when CO2 is increased. Scientifically, oxygen binds to hemoglobin, but in order to do this, it needs CO2 released in the bloodstream.

What are the Benefits of Teaching Pranayama

  • Did you know that only a few rounds of simple pranayama in your class can immediately start changing your students? It helps put their nervous system to a whole new state which means that you will be able to teach your students to use their breath to calm or energize themselves during class.

Since student’s autonomic nervous systems change back and forth from being in a sympathetic state and parasympathetic state, we as instructors need to tell students to find a balance between these two states.

The Two Kinds of Pranayama and How to Teach Them

If you hold intense yoga classes, then you will want your students to be in the sympathetic nervous state. You must ensure that they are dialed in and ready to take on your tough class. However, if you are teaching guided yoga in a gentler manner than you need them to breathe down and allow their bodies to rest while in the parasympathetic state.

Pranayama 1 - Fast Breathing - Unregulated Breaths

  • This technique involves fast and rapid breathing that upregulates the nervous system of the students. A good idea is to begin your class and take time to upregulate the students.

You can start by teaching Wim Hof Breathing Technique or Breath of fire for upregulation. These techniques will immediately energize the bodies of the student and have their minds open up to a more dynamic practice.

  • This is especially necessary if your students are lethargic or suffer from autoimmune disease.

Prayanama 2 - Slow and Deep Breathing - Downregulated Breaths

  • This technique can be used to help your students wind down, relax and de-stress themselves. The technique helps calm the sympathetic nervous system as well as slow down the heart rate so their minds can feel relaxed and safe. The technique can also be used to lower blood pressure.

Keep in mind that breathing deep and slow releases endorphins in the nervous system which helps reduce stress and pain in the body. The parasympathetic state also helps in digesting food and sleep.

  • Guiding your students to learn this technique can significantly help them relax enough to hold deep long breaths that improve their flexibility.

Learn More About Prayanama Breathing

Pranayama is more than just breathing upregulated and downregulated breaths. It has a lot to do with the intricate relationship between physical, mental, emotional and spiritual actions of each.

Although you can learn Prayanama yourself, it is highly recommended that you take on the continuing education course known as the Pranayama and Power Center with Wild Abundant Life, a registered yoga school in Illinois.

We have a handful of courses including the full 200-hr Yoga Teacher Training course along with a host of continuing education and advanced courses. All of which can be taken online or in-studio.

Check our yoga teacher training schedule for 2019-2020 and enroll yourself today to expand your knowledge. We offer an early-bird discount so make sure to check the schedule before you enroll.

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