Pranayama is derived from the Sanskrit prana, meaning vital life force (the breath), andayama, meaning control...
With the ‘control of breath’ practice, you can achieve a healthier body and mind, and attain higher states of awareness.
Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras included pranayama in his description of Ashtanga Yoga. Pranais a very important segue connecting body, mind and consciousness. Patanjali described a technique in which one’s breath control assisted in reaching samadhi. In Ayurveda breath and thought are intimately interconnected.
When one is a beginner in this practice, there are a few techniques to get started easily. The three described in this article can be practiced by complete newcomers, although it is always recommended to employ the tutelage of a qualified yoga teacher. Through their guidance, you will learn accompanying poses, or asanas, and deepen your yoga practice in general.
Known as ‘Bellows breath,’ this breath exercise carries a cleansing/clearing effect. It is good for breathing disorders, stress and anxiety, and can be utilized in preparation for further pranayamas. Here’s how to do it:
- Sit cross-legged with a straight spine, and place your hands on your knees with your palms facing upward. If it is too difficult to keep the spine straight, a chair or couch can be used for assistance.
- Take some relaxed, deep breaths while trying to focus on the breath entering and leaving the body.
- One you’re relaxed, inhale deeply, filling the lungs with air. Exhale forcefully and contract the diaphragm. The movement of air has been described as a hissing sound.
- Repeat quickly ten times. On the last breath, hold in as long as possible. This is one round. Do five in the morning and five at night.
Nadi Shodhan Pranayama
Known as ‘Alternate nostril breathing,’ this exercise brings peace. It is good for preventing stress and anger by clearing the way for energy to move freely throughout the body. Here’s how it is done:
- As in Bhastrika, sit cross-legged with a straight spine, close the eyes and rest the hands on the knees with palms facing upward.
- Reach the right thumb up to close the right nostril and use a four second inhale into the belly using the left nostril only. then hold the breath for four seconds.
- Use the right hand to close the left nostril with the ring finger of the right hand while exhaling completely for six seconds.
- Reverse, starting with the right nostril on the next inhale and repeat the process for 5-10 minutes.
Known as ‘Humming breath,’ Bhramari is also good for relieving anxiety and anger, promoting a sense of calm. the humming produced by this breath will be utilized by the body as a form of sound therapy. Let’s start:
- Sit with a straight spine, resting the hands on the knees, palms facing upward.
- Take the index fingers of both hands and plug your ears.
- Make a humming sound as you inhale. If it is difficult to make the sound, just breathe in.
- Exhale fully, also making the humming sound.
- Repeat five times or more.