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I began studying Iyengar yoga later in life and have been taking classes now for 12 years. For years our teachers encouraged us to consider adding pranayama to our studies. Finally I registered for pranayama breathing classes that happened to begin in September, 2001. The timing of that initiation could not have been more fortuitous. I'd struggled for years with panic attacks and anxiety. The practice helped me cope with anxiety about taking the metro daily to downtown D.C. after 9/11 and many subsequent events in my life. It has brought a focus and sense of calm and peace that has been immeasurably helpful in both my professional and private life. My teacher, John Schumacher, founder and director of Unity Woods Yoga Center in Bethesda, has described pranayama as a gateway to meditation, as well as a form of meditation. i find it is a wonderful way to start the day and I would highly recommend the practice to those who are studying yoga of any kind.