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Why Do Pranayama?

Posted by on Feb 5, 2013

 

Pranayama. . .Exhale

Pranayama. . .Exhale

Yoga for the New World welcomes this guest post from LexiYoga

Pranayama means controlling your vital energy, known as ‘chi’, with yogic breathing exercises. It is often manipulated with Acupuncture, Shiatsu, Reiki, Tai Chi and Reflexology. Practicing pranayama breathing exercises uncover the light of pure consciousness and bring about mental clarity.

Controlling your thoughts seems to be a very difficult task that we all struggle with. Ancient yogis wanted to come up with a solution to this problem. After observing for some time, they came up with the idea that the mind and breath connect, and by controlling you breath, you can reduce stress and calm your mind.

By practicing pranayama your body becomes stronger and healthier, your face glows and your voice becomes clear and melodious. Regular practice of pranayama arouses inner spiritual force, which in turn brings you joy and peace of mind.

“When breath is irregular, your mind is also unsteady. But when your breath is still, so is your mind, and you live long. Therefore practice breath control.”~ Hatha Yoga Pradipika, chapter 2, verse 2.

Using your Breath to Deal with Stress

How you breathe greatly affects your overall well-being in every way: mental, physical, psychological and emotional. Breathing gives you life. If you’re not breathing deeply and fully, you may not be taking enough oxygen into your body to fully metabolize your food and eliminate toxins in your body. If, like most people, your breathing is shallow, you may be using no more than the top one-third of your lung capacity. If you keep your rib cage rigid rather than allowing it to expand with each in-breath, you probably find that tire easily. Shallow breathing encourages you to feel stressed out and fall prey to frequent bouts of depression. When you walk around with hunched shoulders you cause vast amounts of tension to be blocked and to accumulate in your upper back and neck.

Watch yourself the next time you find yourself in a stressful situation; you’ll probably notice that your breathing becomes even faster and shallower. But, instead of losing your temper or reaching for a cigarette or a drink, take a deep breath. The increase in oxygen intake will clear your mind and enable you to better deal with the situation.

By breathing fully you lay a firm foundation for your yoga practice. You will probably notice that the more deeply you breathe the calmer and more focused your life becomes.

Before you begin the actual pranayama exercises, it’s important to make sure that you are breathing properly. Remember that inhalation is caused by your diaphragm moving downward. This creates a vacuum. Each time your diaphragm moves upward, it pushes the air out of the lungs, causing you to exhale.

There are various styles of yogic breathing. A good one to start with is deep abdominal breathing.

Deep Abdominal Breathing

1.   Begin by lying flat on your back.

2.   Place one hand on your abdomen.

3.   Breathe deeply through your nose, taking long, slow, deep breaths.

4.   Feel your abdomen rise with each inhalation and fall with each exhalation.

5.   Be aware that you’re making full use of your diaphragm.

6.   Try to draw the air into the lowest and largest portion of y our lungs.

Practice this deep abdominal breathing for approximately 5 minutes before and after your yoga practice for maximum relaxation. Also, you may want to lie down and relax in this way between various yoga postures.

 

About the Author

Lexi Yoga is a certified yoga instructor in Toronto who loves hot yoga, traveling the world and living in the present moment. She has a 200-hour Hatha Yoga Teachers Training and a 30-hour Yin Yoga Certification. he instructs Yoga videos on her YouTube channel and actively works on her website – LexiYoga.com. Her life mainly consists of – Eat, Sleep & Yoga. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook for to learn more about the healing power of yoga.

Better Health Starts with Pranayama

Better Health Starts with Pranayama

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

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