When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace. ~Author Unknown
Pranayama is yoga breathing excercises. Absorbing prana through breath control links our body, mind, and spirit. Pranayama, may be done in association with yoga poses or just while sitting quietly. It is intended to help prepare for meditation or can be used as a meditation in itself.
The word Pranayama is derived from 2 Sanskrit words: Prana (life force) and Ayama (control). Therefore, Prananyama can be interpreted as ‘control of the flow of life force’.
Pranayama is made up of 3 basic breathing components:
* Inhalation (puraka) stimulates the body, fills the lungs with fresh air.
* Retention (kumbhaka) raises the internal temperature and aids in increasing the absorption of oxygen.
* Exhalation (rechak) brings the diaphragm back to the original position, toxins and impurities are forced out by the contraction of inter-costal muscles.
“Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?” ~Mary Oliver
Benefits of Pranayama
- It teaches us the proper way to breathe. Most people breathe from the chest, using only a fraction of the lungs. With yogic breathing we learn to breathe more slowly and more deeply, reducing the breathing rate by about one third (5-6 breaths per minute).
- Breathing slowly and deeply increases lung capacity, bringing more oxygen the body. All organs are more nourished and the immune system is strengthened.
- Improves Blood Circulation. Slow, deep breaths bring freshly oxygenated blood from lungs to the heart where it pumps to every part of the body and seeps into every tissue and cell.
- Slow deep breathing lowers the heart rate as more oxygen is pumped with fewer breaths. (Follow the 1:2 ratio for inhalation:exhalation.) This also reduced wear and tear of the heart and other internal organs.
- Full exhalation reduces the toxins and impurities from within our body.
- Pranayama massages the abdominal organs and muscles, and aids in digestion.
- It brings a relaxation response which lowers blood pressure, and quiets the nerves.
- It develops our concentration and focus and results in serenity and peace of mind.
- It offers self-control. Through concentration, and experiencing the calm of pranayama, the mind can function more clearly, allowing for more peaceful response rather than situational knee-jerk reactions.
- Through pranayama the mind is made ready for meditation. You may experience lightness in the body, inner calm, better sleep, better memory and concentration.
- Pranayama helps in our spiritual journey through a relaxed body and mind.