Prana” refers to Universal life force and “ayama” means to regulate or lengthen. Pranayama is the control/conscious direction of life force energy through sustained attention to our natural breathing process.
There are a handful techniques all of which involve breathing through the nostrils in a specific pattern of inhalation, breath retention & exhalation. Incorporating pranayama exercises into daily life harmonises the body, mind & soul bringing about a sense of alignment between the three, as ultimately they all make up one body – one being. It is a perfect way to tap into the solar plexus chakra, the inner strength, power & confidence chakra as it provides mental and physical strength from within – out.
The key to a healthy, joyful & purposeful living lies in the breath. Paying attention to our breath assists us in simply being in the present moment, increasing our self-awareness and sense of calm. Pranayama goes deeper than simply paying attention to our breath, using specific rhythms & techniques to access and unlock numerous benefits on mental, spiritual and physical levels.
Pranayama can be considered as active meditation. Some of the benefits of Pranayama breath work include;
-> calms an agitated mind, reduces worry & anxiety
-> instant relief from tension and anger
->mitigates headaches and migraines
-> improves focus, attention & removes brain fog
-> increases energy levels – feeling alive, brings enthusiasm & positivity
-> strengthens immune system, rejuvenates mind, body & soul
-> reduces throat ailments
-> reduces blood pressure
-> builds confidence
More than often we subconsciously allow emotions we experience to alter, halt & jolt our breathing. Conscious and intentional use of breath in the form of breathing exercises transform our emotional states and how we process them. Through prayanama we can learn to control the reception & metabolization of energy in motion (emotions) by putting intention and full attention to breathe consciously for controlled periods of time.
Common Pranayama exercises include:
Both inhalation and exhalation are done through the nose. As you inhale and exhale:
- Keep your mouth closed.
- Constrict your throat to the point that your breathing makes a rushing noise, almost like snoring.
- Control your breath with your diaphragm.
- Keep your inhalations and exhalations equal in duration.
At first, it may feel like you’re not getting enough air, but the technique should become easier with practice.
While sitting comfortable with a straight spine rest your palms on your thighs and close your mouth. Take a big inhale through your nose and exhale out of your nose. Then, start to take short, sharp, even inhales and exhales through your nose (kind of like a dog panting).
Breathe in this pattern for as long as you can and work your way up to five minutes.
Sit up straight in a quiet, well ventilated space with your eyes closed
- Place your index fingers on your ears on the cartilage between your cheek and ear
- Take a deep breath in and as you exhale make a humming sound like a bee, gently pressing the cartilage. You can keep the cartilage pressed or press it in and out with your fingers.
- You can make a low-pitched sound but it’s a good idea to make a high-pitched one for better results.
- Inhale again and continue the same pattern for 5-9 times.
Keep your eyes closed for some time. Observe the sensations in the body and the quietness within.
NADI SHODHANA pranayama
Also known as Alternate Nostril Breathing.
Sit with your legs crossed and a straight spine, looking to the front. Your head should be in one line with your spine.
- Check which of your nostrils is active. If you are breathing from the left nostril, close your right nostril with the thumb of your right hand.
- Inhale deeply through the left nostril. After completing the inhalation close the left nostril with the little and the ring finger and open the right nostril to exhale from the right side.
- After exhalation from the right, continue with inhalation from the right nostril. Then close the right nostril with the thumb, open your left nostril again and exhale.
This is one round of Nadi Shodhana. Repeat this exercise 5 to 10 times.
Overall, understanding and practicing pranayama is a powerful tool for enhancing well-being & inner peace. The overall benefits of prayanama are truly priceless. Most importantly it assists us in aligning with our inner power, our Higher Self & our individual purpose in this life.
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