• The breath. As we move through the limbs of yoga, we integrate breath. It can be very powerful to marry pranayama with asana. Students can more easily see the mind-body relationship when these two are used in tandem. For example, we might say inhale into cow and exhale into cat. Pranayama covers a wide array of breathing techniques to include alternate breathing techniques, ujjayi breath and countless others.
Pranayama = the 4thlimb of Patanjali’s 8 Limbs
Prana Yama – Breath Restraint/control or
Prana Ayama – Breath Lengthen/regulation
Prana – vital energy, which keeps us alive. Often times, people simplify prana as "breath." Prana, however, is the energy which is carried on the breath. Pranayama is the control of prana through the breath.
What does it mean to you?
Yoga helps us to see the connection between mind, body, and breath. Our breath is influenced by our thoughts and our thoughts and body are influenced by our breath. When pranayama is practiced, it brings harmony between body, mind, and spirit – making the individual physically, mentally and spiritually strong.
Pranayama can also be viewed as rhythmic deep breathing techniques.
How can you apply it to your daily life?
There are many different pranayama practices:
Complete Belly Breath / Diaphragmatic Breathing
Deep breathing can help calm and slow down the emotional turbulence of the mind, diffusing emotional energy.
Alternate Nostril Breathing / Nadi Shodhana
When you are feeling anxious or ungrounded - this will immediately help you feel calmer.
Oceans Breath / Victorious Breath / Ujjayi
When you feel angry, irritated, or frustrated – this will immediately soothe and settle your mind.
Energizing Breath / Bhastrika/ Bellows Breath
When you are feeling blue or sluggish - this will give you an immediate surge of energy and invigorate your mind.
Breath of Joy
Energizing, boosts mood and energy, oxygenates brain
Kapala Bhakti / Skull Shining
What are some benefits of applying it to your daily life?
When we attend to our breath, it brings us to the present moment, increasing self-awareness and brings a sense of calm.
Scientists have documented that the practice of deep breathing includes:
· Reduced anxiety and depression
· Lower/stabilized blood pressure
· Increased energy levels
· Muscle relaxation
· Decreased feeling of stress
Studies also indicate that there are benefits to those suffering from PTSD, COPD (Chronic destructive pulmonary disease) and asthma.
Traditional findings show that regular pranayama practice can:
Calms the mind, reducing worries and anxieties
Improves focus and attention, removing brain fog
Increases energy, bringing enthusiasm and positivity
Boosts the immune system
Rejuvenates the body and mind
May even slow down the aging process
Many of these benefits can be attributed to how deep breathing causes a reduction of the stress response within the body.
Sympathetic nervous system (Fight or Flight response) is triggered when the mind/body experiences stress. Breathing becomes rapid and shallow (breathing only into the chest) and a surge of cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline) which increases blood pressure and heart rate.
This can be reversed with deep breathing – triggering a sense of calm in your body and mind – by stimulating the vagus nerve, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system, slowing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure and calming body and mind.