Pranayama Yoga stresses the importance of deep, focused breathing for a very simple reason: when you can control your breath, you can control everything. In essence, perfecting your natural breathing technique can actually have healing effects on your body.
The art of pranayama breathing is an essential part of every yoga posture, but it can also be practiced on its own as an independent meditation. Most of us barely utilize the full breathing capacity of our lungs. Pranayama attempts to change that by introducing the “Full Yogic Breath”, which is designed to help you utilize your breathing capacity to its maximum.
There are three levels of breathing: the high, middle and low breath. A full yogic breath incorporates all three levels. Let’s first distinguish between the three, so you can ascertain which level you’re at. People under stress and those with respiratory ailments breathe in a shallow way, using the top of their lungs with just their shoulders moving up and down with each breath. This is the high breath. The middle breath is a little deeper than the high and extends to the middle of the lungs. The low breath is a deep breath that results in abdominal movements coinciding with inhalation and exhalation.
The Importance of Breathing
Yoga emphasizes breathing for a reason. The air you inhale contains the oxygen your body’s cells need to function optimally. When you exhale, you release the carbon dioxide and waste materials that damage your cells if they’re allowed to stay within the body. The sooner they’re out, the better.Yoga breathing maximizes your oxygen intake, thus giving your cells a better supply of oxygen. Moreover, waste materials and carbon dioxide can be expelled faster.
Basic Pranayama Guidelines
It’s best to practice pranayama while sitting with your head, spine and neck in a straight line. Let the stress and tension flow out of your body. As you prepare for pranayama your body should feel loose and relaxed, not tight and tense.
Inhale slowly and deeply, allowing your abdomen and lung cavity to expand as it fills up with air. As you exhale, slowly allow the air to exit from your lungs, and ensure that your stomach gets sucked in completely as you exhale. Some pranayama variations that can be practiced are the Kapalabhati, AnulomaViloma, Brahmari, Sitkari and Sithali.
Health Benefits of Pranayama
Once you perfect the art of Pranayama and incorporate it into your daily lifestyle, you’ll be greeted by a flurry of health benefits.
Earlier we mentioned that breathing is a “healing tool”. Nowadays, most ofthe rampant lifestyle diseases, such as heart disease and hypertension, are stress-related. Deep breathing has a calming, soothing effect on the nerves and helps to eliminate tension and stress from the body. It also gets rid of chronic muscular tension of the heart muscles.
Pranayama enhances your ability to utilize your lung capacity to its fullest. That means your body’s cells can benefit from an enhanced supply of oxygenated blood. This also allows your body to expel waste materials and toxins out of the body without any delay.
Full yoga breathing trains you to focus on your breathing patterns. By linking a bodily function with a conscious effort made by the mind, pranayama lays a strong foundation for a harmonious mind and body connection. This deep connection will make it easier for you to concentrate and focus on your daily tasks and challenges.
The best thing about pranayama is that it can be practiced anywhere, anytime. There’s more to breathing than you think! Reprogram your breathing technique and it won’t be long before you can feel – and breathe in – the difference.