PRANAYAMA IS BREATHING EXERCISES THAT HELP CLEAR THE MIND AND BODY OF ANY PHYSICAL OR MENTAL BLOCKAGES.
What is it?
Pranayama is breathing techniques that are often used before or after an asana practice, but can also be done alone. They are a way to cleanse the body and increase the flow of prana (life energy) throughout the entire body. Pranayama is also one of the 8 limbs of Yoga, which are basically guidelines on how to live a wholesome and yogic lifestyle.
We live in a world where we are uptight, stressed and probably not breathing as deeply as we should be. Breathing deeply and using the diaphragm to breath can reduce stress and tension in the body. Think about it, when you are stressed, angry or panicking; your breath is often short or ragged. Try to breathe out for longer than you breathe in and you’ll notice a difference in your emotions and body almost instantly.
There are so many different forms of pranayama, all with different levels of difficulty. Some will energise the body; others will make you feel calm. Breathing is a key part in any yoga class, so understanding the pranayama before practice asanas can make a huge difference in how you feel.
Usually pranayama is practiced in a comfortable seated position (whatever that is to oyu whether in full lotus or in a chair). You will find pranayama in a lot of Yoga classes, one of the most popular is in Bikram yoga classes. In these classes, you will practice pranayama at the beginning and end of the class.
One of the most commonly practiced pranayama techniques are Nadi Shodana (alternate nostril breathing) which helps to calm down the nervous system, enables you to move into a calmer and relaxed state of mind. Another common pranayama exercise found in yoga classes is Kapalabhati (skull shining breath) which using the strength of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles, can help to cleanse the body and leave you feeling completely energised.
Pranayama is a practice that absolutely anyone and everyone can do, but of course when practicing something new, it is always best to have a teacher guide you through your first time.
Why we love it!
Okay, honestly, at first people turn away from pranayama as they feel it is ‘boring’ or ‘just breathing’ but if practiced regularly for about 10 minutes a day, it can make you feel like a completely new person! You will actually feel that your mind is clearer, body more relaxed, breathing is slower and can also set you up perfectly for your physical practice too. Its definitely worth taking the time to learn one or two techniques you can practice every day. <3