Pranayama – Breathing Practice

Breathing

Breath is life.

We can live for days without food or water, but without breath, we die in minutes.

Pranayama – the science of breath control consisting series of exercises
Prana – life energy/essence of life

Conscious control of the breath is the key to realising all the benefits of any asana. The harmonious coordination of inhalation and exhalation creates a wave-like motion of effort and release in the nervous system, which leaves you feeling more relaxed and energetic both in body and mind after just a few minutes.

There are 3 main types of breathing:
  1. Abdominal (deep)
  2. Chest (middle)
  3. Clavicular (shallow)

Due to stress, anxiety and busyness, we developed a shallower chest breathing that allows us to use only a little part of our lungs, therefore, we need to focus to develop correct breathing patterns so we can use our lung capacity fully.

There are 3 stages of breathing:
  1. Inhalation
  2. Retention
  3. Exhalation

We often think of inhalation as the most essential stage of breathing but in fact, it is exhalation that holds the key. For the more stale air you exhale, the more fresh air you can inhale.
Inhalation through your nose will warm up and filter the air you breathe in and also will maximise the amount of prana you take in.

Pranayama/Yogic Breathing practices teach you how to control prana and thus to control the mind. Our breath is closely connected to our body, our emotions and feelings. When we are angry, stressed or scared, our breathing is shallow, rapid and irregular. When we are relaxed or deep in thought, our breathing becomes slow and deep.

Since our state of mind is reflected in the way we breathe, we can learn to control our state of mind by controlling the breath. Through the development of correct breathing patterns and learning to regulate our breathing, we are not only increasing our intake of oxygen and prana, but preparing ourselves for the practice of concentration and meditation.

To help to gain most benefits from pranaymana and correct our breathing patterns we will focus on several practises during the yoga sessions.

Devoting a little time and attention to developing the habit of correct breathing patterns will add a relaxed and dynamic quality both to our yoga practice and to our daily life.

Source: Sivananda Yoga Teacher’s training course book, self practice

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