On and Off Your Mat

Intro to Pranayama (Breath work) with Richard Rosen

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I have a passion for helping women in their personal growth, so they can feel that anything is possible in life. Blogging is one way I do that; another medium for me to share a more personal side of the whole journey. 

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For our 41st episode, I sat down with Richard Rosen. Richard a renowned yoga teacher and the author of five books on yoga. He trained in Iyengar Yoga in San Francisco and has been teaching for more than 30 years. He, Clare Finn, and Rodney Yee founded the Piedmont Yoga Studio (now called “Nest Yoga”) in Oakland in 1987. He is a contributing editor of the Yoga Journal and president of the Yoga Dana Foundation. He has written hundreds of reviews of yoga books and videos for magazines including Yoga Journal, and has given workshops in countries all around the world. Today we sat down to talk about the basic concepts around pranayama.

Listen to the full episode here :


1- You can’t push yourself in pranayama. You have to remain calm, patient, take your time and back off from your desire to get something done. If you feel, anxious, frustration or anger, you’re pushing to hard.

2- When we are not breathing efficiently, generally in comes form tension in the body, and emotions like fear that make us contracted.

3- To begin a breathing practice, start by getting comfortable with watching the breath. Don’t do anything. Let the breath have it’s own way.

4- Be patient, do it frequently, start laying down on the floor, add support under the spine to open the chest. Sandbags and earplugs are also very useful to support you in your practice.

5- Pranayama is usually done after asana and a gateway to meditation. Asana prepares you to sit and then, Savasana is the most important preparation for pranyama. You actually prepare for pranayama by doing nothing. If you cant sit in alignment, breathing becomes difficult so stay reclined and breathe laying down.


  • Can you tell us about yourself and your yoga journey?
  • Can you explain what is prana and pranayama?
  • You talk about becoming a witness when we practice… What does that mean?
  • Why you are passionate about this particular limb of yoga?
  • What does it mean to be an efficient breather? What are the common defects of the breath?
  • What are the elements of the breath?
  • How do we prepare for pranayama? What’s the foundation we need to establish?
  • Why practice pranayama? What are the benefits?
  • How does pranayama affect our state of mind or prepare us for meditation. What’s the link between prana and consciousness?
  • Tips, tricks, guidelines for beginners? Or reminders for regular practitioners?
  • For students that are new to pranayama, where’s a good place to start?
  • For newer teachers that would like to start including some pranayama in their classes, can you give some ideas of how to build a breath pattern into a whole class, or use pranayama as a theme for the practice?
  • Is it realistic to include pranayama in 1h class?
  • Why is pranayama not a very popular practice?
  • Do you think people need to understand the koshas to practice pranayama?


Thank you so much for listening and being part of our 41st episode! We have other great guests lined up for you so make sure to subscribe to the podcast where ever you listen to not miss an episode or get on my mailing list!

As always, I really appreciate your support. So as you leave a review on iTunes or on your iPhone podcast app, you automatically enter a giveaway. Athleta is generously continuing to support this podcast in their effort to ignite a community of strong women who lift each other up, and is giving out a 75$ shop card! If you’re not sure how to leave a review, check this article. ​ The winner of this episode’s giveaway is iTunes user D. Coyle. Congrats! Email me at erika.belanger@gmail.com or DM me on instagram @erika.belanger and I’ll send you your shop card!

On and Off Your Mat is also now part of Patreon. Patreon is a web platform where you can donate to financially support this podcast or you can become a monthly member. Donators get shoutouts on the episode and as monthly members you receive exclusive content : mini-shows, guided meditation, guided flows and so much more. Visit my patreon page at here to become a member and get access to all the exclusive content from the last few months! You can make a one time donation or become a member at 5$ Tier to listen to what you have missed so far. In November, you’ve got a video flow of one of my favorite warm-up sequence, it was requested by a listener that comes to my classes. Coming up in December, you’ll get a pranayama practice to go with this episode! Your support means the world to me. I really want to continue to offer this podcast, but financially it’s challenging, so even with something as small as 5$/month makes a really big difference and helps me continue to share, educate and inspire thousands of students around the world every episode. Thank you in advance.


Richard began his practice of Hatha Yoga in 1980 at the Yoga Room in Berkeley, and from 1982 to 1985 trained at the BKS Iyengar Yoga Institute in San Francisco. In 1987 he co-founded the Piedmont Yoga Studio with his good friends Clare Finn and Rodney Yee, and taught there for nearly 28 years until it closed its doors in January 2015. Richard continued on with the new owners of You and the Mat until July of 2018, when Nest Yoga purchased You and the Mat’s Oakland location.

Richard is a contributing editor at Yoga Journal magazine, and since 1990 he’s written feature articles, book reviews, a variety of columns, and over 300 yoga video reviews. He’s also the author of four books, The Yoga of Breath (Shambhala 2002), Yoga for 50+ (Ulysses 2004), Pranayama Beyond the Fundamentals (Shambhala 2006), and Original Yoga (Shambhala 2012), as well as recording a seven-CD set titled The Practice of Pranayama (Shambhala 2010). Since 1989 he’s been on the board of directors of the California Yoga Teachers Association, and in 2008 helped form CYTA’s grant-making wing, the Yoga Dana Foundation, which supports California yoga teachers working with underserved populations, such as at-risk and incarcerated youth and disabled students.

Learn more about him : His website

Get his books :

Original Yoga: Rediscovering Traditional Practices of Hatha Yoga

The Yoga of Breath: A Step-by-Step Guide to Pranayama

Yoga FAQ: Almost Everything You Need to Know about Yoga-from Asanas to Yamas

Yoga for 50+: Modified Poses and Techniques for a Safe Practice

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Hi, I'm Erika.
Your Yoga Teacher and Life Coach.

I have a passion for helping women in their personal growth, so they can feel that anything is possible in life. Blogging is one way I do that; another medium for me to share a more personal side of the whole journey. Self-Study, awareness, and inquiry are a big part of my path. Join me as I use my experiences as the base for the lessons I want to share. I write about what I know and what helps me, hoping that it will help you.

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