Finding Resilience in Breath—The Science of Pranayama with Patty Townsend

Screen Shot 2020-06-30 at 8.46.07 AMBreath is precious. It should be our birthright to experience the gift of life offered with every breath we take. We know this is not always the case. Even in the privileged lives so many of us live, full-body easy breathing is not guaranteed and is not automatic.

We are living in stressful times and these troubled times affect our breath. In turn, our breathing affects everything about how we feel and our ability to be effective in our lives.

In this time, confronting the horror of, “I can’t breathe,” we are called upon to act with strength and clarity within ourselves and in our communities. We are called upon to take strong action, to be persistent, and to come from a place of balance and equanimity. Equanimity and balance are functions of complex interactions within our nervous systems. How we breathe affects our nervous system, and our nervous system affects our breathing.

Support Precedes Action
The quality of our own breathing is critical to finding the stability within our lives that is imperative for providing support for all we need to do. Good support precedes effective action. Yogic breathing techniques offer extensive means for balancing and toning the nervous system. We need that to experience inner comfort and stability. We need stability to create the foundation for strength and clarity in our actions.

There is an art to yoga breathing. Like everything else in yoga, pranayama is a multilayered process. Pranayama requires a delicate touch, skillful technique, and appropriate progression of practices.


Welcome to our new Online Self-Paced Educational Program on Pranayama with Patty Townsend

In this program, we explore traditional Hatha Yoga techniques along with important embodied-somatic underpinnings for those techniques. We use Embodied-Inquiry to delve into subtle layers consciousness and form. We open to direct experience of prana in all its layers of subtlety and power. At the same time, we use the pranayama techniques in their optimal way to heal and transform our agitated nervous systems.

We explore traditional pranayama techniques:

  • Three-Part Breathing—with a radically new perspective on diaphragmatic movement
  • Ujjayi
  • Bandhas
  • Breath Retention
  • Nadi Shodhana

We explore inner foundational techniques:

  • Cellular Breathing
  • Navel Flooding Breath
  • Infinity Breathing

Cellular Breathing was our first and remains our primary breath. We were breathing cellularly for nine months before we ever took a breath into our lungs. We feel the life of breath in our cells. In Cellular Breathing, we are invited within to our own sea of embodied intelligence—the place of liveliness and potentiality that each of us carries within. It underlies all breathing.

Navel Flooding Breath is a completely new way of looking at “abdominal breathing”. Nearly opposite of what you may have learned, Navel Flooding Breath is profoundly toning to abdominal organs and other soft tissues. It is supportive of life force containment and is foundational to going deeper in pranayama.

Infinity Breathing—the culminating gift of pranayama is not really a technique at all. It can be said to be the result of good technique. It rises out of deep ease and comfort within. Inhale and exhale diffuse one into the other—expanding, condensing, and yielding—dissolving only to rise again. No beginning and no end—the undulating gift of life with each and every breath we take.

“Pranayama removes the veil covering the light of knowledge
and heralds the dawn of wisdom.”
B.K.S. Iyengar—Light on the Yoga Sutras, Sutra II.52

This program is designed for all yoga practitioners.
Those with a basic knowledge of yoga and a desire to go deeper will receive foundational understanding upon which to build a lifelong breathing practice.

Teachers and advanced practitioners will learn new practices. Knowledgeable practitioners will recognize the importance of embodying the underlying breathing techniques offered here as critical support for all pranayama practice.

Mindful Yoga Therapy has provided the support and platform for this program.
It is presented online in a self-paced program of approximately 20 hours. The program is divided into five modules, each with its own specific western science, yogic science, and elucidation and practice of techniques.

This program provides a progressive and holistic approach to pranayama that respects our embodied existence. We aim to deepen our humanity, sensitizing ourselves to life while providing the inner strength and resources to see life as it is, engage in appropriate ways, and increase self-knowledge and love.

Yoga is serious stuff. It isn’t necessarily easy to stay on track. A good deal of commitment and personal agency is required to continue to go deeper. I hope you will join me on this continuing journey.

Very much worth the effort…

Feel free to contact me with questions: patty@embodyoga.com

Register for the Program Here

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