Pranayama is a practice of specific breathing techniques and exercises which leads you to experience happier lifestyle.
Pranayama is a practice relating to the control and regulation of the breath through specific breathing techniques and exercises. Pranayama exercises help us to clear physical and emotional blocks or obstacles in the body so that the breath, and Prana, can flow freely.
Pranayama uses the breath to direct and expand the flow of Prana through energy channels in our
bodies - called the "nadis." While attention to the breath is a central part of any yoga practice, Pranayama involves specific breathing exercises that can either be practiced on their own or as part of a Hatha yoga (physical yoga) practice.
The Sanskrit word Pranayama comes from Prana (life energy) and Ayama (to extend, draw out). The practice of Pranayama dates back to ancient India, and the origins of yoga said to be around sixth and fifth centuries BC. Pranayama is mentioned in early yoga texts such as the Bhagavad Gita, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
Pranayama is the fourth of Patanjali's eight-limb path of yoga following the Yamas, Niyamas, and Asana. It prepares the mind and body for the next four limbs of yoga:
When we practice Pranayama, the veil is gradually drawn away from the mind, and there is growing clarity. The mind becomes ready for deep meditation (yoga sutra 2.52)
Key principles of practice:
Clearing the obstacles so that breath and Prana (life energy) can flow.
The guiding principle behind Pranayama is that we all hold physical or emotional blocks in our bodies, which inhibit the flow of breath and run life energy. This can leave us feeling unwell and "stuck" or blocked physically and emotionally. By practicing Pranayama (and Asana), we are clearing
these blocks so breath and Prana can flow freely, our bodies can then function properly, and our minds can become calmer and more transparent.
Calm breathing (sometimes called “diaphragmatic breathing”) is a technique that helps you slow down your breathing when feeling stressed or anxious. Newborn babies naturally breathe this way,
as do singers, wind instrument players, and yoga practitioners.
Take a deep breath. Now let it out. You may notice a difference in how you feel already. Your breath is a powerful tool to ease stress and make you feel less anxious. Some simple breathing exercises can make a big difference if you make them part of your routine.
Before you get started, keep these tips in mind:
Choose a place to do your breathing exercise. It could be in your bed, on your living room floor, or in a comfortable chair.
Do not force it. This can make you feel more stressed.
Try to do it at the same time once or twice a day.
Wear comfortable clothes.
Many breathing exercises take only a few minutes. When you have more time, you can do them for 10 minutes or more to get even greater benefits. Deep Breathing Most people take short, shallow breaths into their chest. It can make you feel anxious and zap your energy. With this technique, you will learn how to take bigger breaths, all the way into your belly.
Get comfortable. You can lie on your back in bed or on the floor with a pillow under your head and knees, or you can sit in a chair with your shoulders, head, and neck supported against the back of
the chair. Breathe in through your nose. Let your belly fill with air. Breathe out through your nose, place one hand on your belly, then place the other hand on your chest. As you breathe in, feel your belly rise. As you breathe out, feel your belly lower. The hand on your the belly should move more than the one that is on your chest. Take three more full, deep breaths. Breathe fully into your belly as it rises and falls with your breath.
While you do deep breathing, use a picture in your mind and a word or phrase to help you feel more relax.
Close your eyes if they are open. Take a few big, deep breaths. Breathe in. As you do that, imagine that the air is filled with a sense of peace and calm. Try to feel it throughout your body. Breathe out. While you are doing it, imagine that the air leaves with your stress and tension.
Now use a word or phrase with your breath. As you breathe in, say in your mind, "breath in peace and calm." As you breathe out, say in your mind, "breathe out stress and tension."
Continue for 10 minutes.
Alternate nostril breathing:
It is a yogic breath control practice. In Sanskrit, it’s known as "nadishodhana pranayama". This translates as “subtle energy clearing breathing technique.” This type of breath work can be done as part of a yoga or meditation practice. Alternate nostril breathing can also be done as its practice helping you quietly and still your mind.
Step by Step:
Step 1: Sit in a comfortable position, face east or north.
Step 2: Gently close your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale through your left nose, then close it with your left thumb. Open and exhale slowly through the right nostril.
Step 3: Keep the right nostril open, inhale, then close it, and open and exhale slowly through the left. This is one cycle. Repeat 5 to 7 times, then release the hands and go back to normal breathing.
Step 4: The most important part is to inhale slowly and exhale slowly, do not send air in or out by force and suddenly in your inhalation or exhalation.
Lowers heart rate and reduces stress and anxiety
synchronize the two hemispheres of the brain
purify the subtle energy channels (nadis) of the body, so the Prana flows more easily during Pranayama practice
relax your body and mind
promote overall well-being.