Pranayama – The Art of Yoga Breathing
You know that you should be tuning into your breath because your yoga instructor is constantly telling you to listen to you breath. You know that you probably don’t breathe deep enough on a daily basis, but do you really and truly tune into your breath after you leave your yoga mat?
Maybe you don’t practice yoga at all, and that’s okay, but this article still pertains to you because we are all tied together by one binding force. It is the living breath known as Prana that is moving through all of us.
Yogis know deep breathing as Pranayama. Prana is the Sanskrit word for life. Ayama is the Sanskrit word for control. Pranayama is the control of the flow of our life force known as our breath.
Oxygen is the most fundamental thing we all need in order to survive. We can live without food or even water for days, but you can’t live without oxygen for more than perhaps a minute.
Yogic breathing breaks the process of breathing down into either thoracic breathing or diaphragmatic breathing. We will get into those later. But for now just think of the immediate process. You just inhaled oxygen, stimulating your body systems and filling up your lungs with fresh oxygen. You retained this oxygen briefly, raising your body temperature, which in turn helps to burn away toxins. Lastly you exhaled the carbon dioxide in your lungs, ridding your body of wastes.
Yogic breathing balances the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the body by practicing Pranayama breathing. By practicing deep breathing your body learns to equally inhale and exhale while learning to retain a little more oxygen for little longer than you may on a daily basis. Sometimes we take too shallow of a breath and then exhale longer, or may even do the reverse. But either way, you are only using a fraction of your lungs. This sets you up for an innumerable list of illnesses or disease.
Do you feel sluggish throughout the day, or maybe even more negative as the hours tick by? Well, believe it or not, you can relate this to not supplying your body with enough oxygen. The brain requires more oxygen (and water) than any other organ and if it doesn’t get what it needs you definitely know it by being depressed, moody, etc. Of course, there are many other factors that influence this type of behavior, but lack of oxygen is number one!
The amount of energy you have comes from the kind of food, water and amount of oxygen you supply it with. However, the main source of energy your body uses is from oxygen. Plenty of water and oxygen purify the blood stream, recharging our solar plexus (Chakra 3), rejuvenating our skin and slowing down the aging process altogether.
You can practice healthy eating, focus on natural health, and you can even make sure that you get an adequate supply of purified water for your body. But can you practice deep breathing throughout your day?
The best means of understanding the proper way to perform Pranayama would be to take a yoga class and learn from a skilled professional, or begin meditating on your own. But before you search for the perfect yoga class, use this new knowledge to simply become more aware of your breathing.
As you move throughout your day your breath is your partner. It is like a dance, but your breath is in the lead. As you slow down and become aware of your breath’s dance remember that it is also conversing between your inner self and your outer body. Your breath is meant to make you more complete, to help you absorb the Prana from the world around you, to improve your health, and awaken your consciousness.
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