“When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace.” Author Unknown
Prāṇāyāma means “extension of the prāṇa or life force” in Sanskrit. The term consists of the two words: prana, life force or vital energy (which we absorb while breathing), and ayāma, which means to extend or control.
Pranayama is special breathing techniques which play a big role in the yogic philosophy. Why is it so important to include it into your yogic practice? First of all, air is much more important than food and water. Just imagine – we can live without food for weeks, water for days, but without oxygen for just a few minutes! We consume around 2 liters of water a day, 1 kg of food, but 13,000 liters of oxygen! Obviously it is our most important nutrient. Correct breathing possesses great power to heal on many levels and energize the body. Insufficient, shallow breathing causes many diseases and ailments, yet most of us never pay attention to the way they breathe and have no idea that we have to learn to breathe correctly.
Pranayama is not just controlling the breath, it is a way to absorb and increase prana in the body. It is also the bridge between asanas and meditation, and we can’t overstep this aspect of Yoga. The combination of asanas and pranayama techniques is considered as the best and fastest way to purification and developing self-discipline, covering both mind and body.
‘When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still, and the yogi achieves long life. Therefore, one should learn to control the breath’. (Svatmarama, Hatha Yoga Pradipika)
From a health perspective, learning to use breath as a tool is one of the most cleansing, revitalizing, nourishing, and restorative things we can do for our overall health. The regular practice of pranayama brings all sorts of amazing benefits such as improved digestion, clarity of mind, deeper sleep, more energy, rejuvenation, anti-ageing and the feeling of inner happiness.
It is known that most people only use 25% of their lung capacity during their entire lifetime! Shallow breathing is provoked by tight clothes, everyday stress, smoking, and pollution which make the body to suffer from the lack of oxygen supply. This leads to stagnation of the gases in the lungs, slower elimination of toxic wastes from the blood and lymphatic system, irregular heart work, and results in a continuous feeling of tiredness and anxiety. Nature designed our lungs to breathe in air deeply into the bottom of our lungs, using the diaphragm in order to provide blood and brain oxygenation, massaging internal organs, and to remain active throughout the whole day.
There are two main types of breathing: tranquilizing and energizing. Tranquilizing breath is mostly focused on a longer exhale, whereas energizing breath is focused on a longer inhale. Example of a spontaneous tranquilizing breath is a sigh, and a yawn is an energizing breath.
Pranayama is known for stimulation of the cellular breathing, which is the only true way of breathing. Sedentary people may never level during their entire lifetime without even being conscious about it! Remember how you felt after hiking in the mountains or any other physical activity in the fresh air, no matter how hard it was. Clean, unpolluted air and solar energy infuses you with vital energy, charges your mood and gives you even more power for living actively.
That is why it is recommended that pranayama should be practiced ideally in the nature as it makes the difference what kind of energy we absorb from the surroundings.
As yogic breathing techniques are much more powerful than physical exercises, we recommend that you find a good experienced teacher who will guide you through the safe practice and will provide you the tips for your personal home practice.
We wish you to be healthy and happy!
“The beauty of a lake reflects the beauty around it.
When the mind is still, the beauty of the Self is seen reflected in it.” (BKS Iyengar)