People nowadays are trying different ways to help improve their health. Yoga practice, meditation, and regular breathing exercises are some of the best practices to try.
According to a study, the yogic way of breathing reduces stress symptoms, high blood pressure, better sleeping habit, lowers cigarette cravings, and refines the respiratory and nervous systems to function more efficiently.
In this 889 Yoga guide, let’s get to know the pranayama breathing exercise and ways to get started, and let’s go deeper into the fantastic benefits you will get that will leave you more productive and make your life more harmonious. But first, let’s find out its basic information.
Pranayama 101: Everything You Need to Know
The pranayama practice originated from the age-old yogic wisdom. It involves multiple breathing techniques for specific purposes, like increasing your oxygen intake to remove unnecessary toxins from the body.
Yoga and meditation are methods that passed through generations to generations in India. Both practices offer us definitive ways to find happiness, contentment, and harmony with others.
Breathing exercises are inseparable from meditative routines and yogic poses. These breathing exercises in yoga are called pranayama/s. With this, your yoga practice will be cohesive as you promote your physical, mental, and spiritual growth.
Pranayama is a Sanskrit word that means “life force” and “to control.” So when practicing pranayama, you keep your energy level above normal and keep them flowing to help make yourself calm and productive.
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Meditation vs Pranayama
Although both practices are effective ways to lower stress symptoms, promote calmness, and refine your concentration, there is still a fine line between these two.
Meditation is a practice suitable for exercising the mind for better awareness and mindfulness. One of the critical goals of meditation practice is to promote your mental accuracy and free you from the endless influx of thoughts and sensations in your mind.
Pranayama, on the flip side, concentrates on breathing. It is a practice of controlling your breath that can promote calmness to your body and mind as well. Meditation and pranayama are both present in the yoga practice, which you will master throughout your yogic lifestyle.
Goals of Pranayama
Breathing techniques can positively affect your body and mind in many ways. To further highlight how important this practice can be, professionals from India said that every emotion corresponds to a specific breathing pattern. With that, if you find controlling your emotions hard, breathing techniques will come to the rescue.
The parasympathetic nervous system is one way to help purify your body, and practicing pranayama can better the function of your nervous system. Just like other yoga and meditation exercises, it primarily encourages the vagus nerve to help calm the body completely.
Moreover, practicing pranayama can support to set you free from the inevitable day-to-day agitations and help you handle them with resilience. When you breathe in oxygen, it energizes your well-being, stimulating your mind and emotions in the process. When you exhale, you are letting go of the body’s tension and unnecessary pressure.
When a breathing technique is mastered, your focus will level up, and your healing ability will activate naturally any time of the day and anything you do. So balancing the methods of strengthening and relaxing is one goal of practicing breathing techniques.
Mastering the Five Pranayamas
For some reason, practicing pranayama and meditation is best on an empty stomach. Doing these practices on a daily basis will help you jump-start your day. Naturally, you will incorporate these breathing techniques throughout your day until the very bedtime to help you calm your mind and relax your body.
There is various pranayamas technique which you can practice daily, such as the deep yogic breathing, alternate nostril breathing, and ujjayi breathing, which you will all learn in the following sections. Your breathing is the only method of the self-sufficient nervous system that is unconscious and may be controlled consciously as well.
So if you decide to control your breathing, you will be able to command your body and mind, which positively affects your circulatory system and other vital systems in your body.
You can also learn these breathing techniques online for free if you want to try them for yourself before actually enrolling in a class. That said, below are the five pranayama techniques that anyone can try:
1. Ujjayi breathing
Ujjayi, better known as the “victorious breath,” is one method of yogic breathing that narrows your throat smoothly to encourage resistance to make the air freely flow throughout the body.
The ujjayi breathing causes a snoring sound that can be calming or relaxing for some yogis.
2. Nadi Shodhana
The Nadi Shodhana also called the “alternate nostril breathing,” is a technique that allows your inhalations and exhalations to alternate through both sides of the nostril effectively. This process can influence your emotional and logical parts of your brain.
The balancing quality of this breathing technique can be soothing and help to heighten your focus.
The “skull shining breath,” or Kapalabhati, is a gentle inhalation and a bit active exhalation.
This breathing technique can help withdraw the toxins out from the body and clear the blockages of your energy channels so they will flow freely, which avoids the imbalance of your energies or chakras.
Bhastrika, better known as the “bellow’s breathing” or “refreshing breathing,” is a breathing technique that has an aggressive inhalation and exhalation routine, which can energize and promote calmness in the mind if correctly done.
Bhramari breathing, also known as the “humming bee breathing,” is a breathing technique that involves long, deep inhales, partnered with a humming-like exhalation.
This creates a humming-sound and smooth vibration that can offer any yogis a soothing feeling to concentrate on, helping calm the ever-busy mind.
Benefits of Breathing Techniques
The practice of pranayama breathing is beneficial for those seeking to improve their meditation and yogic lifestyle. That said, here’s a quick walkthrough of the few benefits from practicing the breathing techniques:
It clears the mind. A good oxygen inhalation helps to kick the carbon dioxide out from the body, which in turn improves the sense and nervous system function. By offering yourself something to focus on, you can also clear your mind and lower stress and anxiety symptoms, enhancing your cognitive capacity.
Breathing techniques can refine your mindfulness. Pranayama practice pays closer attention to your breathing at present, which is beneficial for your mindfulness exercises. Moreover, this can help manage your emotions by holding your mind from buzzing too far into a harmful and unhealthy state.
Pranayama works your lungs. The breathing exercises mentioned above can help refine your lung function, enabling you to take fuller and deeper breaths. These deep breaths broaden the blood vessels, which encourage better blood circulation and stronger immunity.
The last benefit on the list is that it improves your sleeping habit as it lowers your heart right before bedtime, which can provide relaxing and soothing effects on the body and mind.
Is Pranayama Safe?
Always consult your health care provider before trying a new practice, especially if you have previous or existing health conditions. Pranayama practice is a safe exercise, but there are few exceptions.
Don’t practice this one after eating. Hold on and wait at least four hours and make sure you are not straining when performing pranayama/s. Always breathe into your nose, don’t rush, and go smoothly at your own pace.