Given my own experience, it’s easy for me to empathize with students who are not drawn to pranayama right away. Traditionally, though, the practice of pranayama—releasing and channeling the body’s stores of internal pranic energy—has been seen as the core of hatha yoga practice. Month after month, she kept teaching pranayama, and month after month I kept resisting it—though I did occasionally show up for class.

Pranayama is meant to nurture a high level of bodily health and mental clarity, both of which are crucial steps on the path to self-knowledge and a wholesome, authentic life. Luckily, my teacher taught pranayama the last week of every month, so it was easy to avoid.
During an agitated and confused time in my life, I glimpsed in pranayama practice the possibility of refuge.

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