When you are alive, the body breathes, whether sleeping or awake. Breathing is something a person does daily for everyday living. It is a vital function of life. Therefore, every cell in our bodies needs oxygen to function correctly. So it’s no surprise that a regular practice of controlled breathing can decrease the effects of stress on the body. It increases overall mental and physical health.
Noticing how relaxing a simple sigh can be at the end of a long day can settle the mind. That is why there are a variety of breathing techniques that people do to reduce their stress. Yet, it is easy to get caught up in the busyness of our everyday lives. And there are quick and simple ways to regain control of the body and mind.
Prana means universal life energy, and ‘Ayama’ refers to the ability to increase or regulate. The goal is to connect and strengthen the body, spirituality, and mind. It is the regulation of prana through breathing techniques.
The quality and quantity of prana affect the mind. That means levels of prana determine states of emotion and mind. When prana is low and unstable, the mind feels emotions. You will feel worried, angst, tense, and uncertain. But, when prana is high and steady, the mind calms down. It creates positive emotions and energy states.
There are many benefits of practicing healthy breathing. These techniques help both physical symptoms as well as mental health. People believe it reduces worries, improving states of depression and anxiety.
The way you breathe determines the stress response of the body. For that reason, pranayama helps reduce stress greatly by altering irregular breathing patterns.
Generally, people take small breaths by raising the collarbone and shoulders when stressed. And practicing deep pranayama breathing brings the diaphragm into active use.
Practicing pranayama daily has a direct impact on the lungs. It strengthens respiratory muscles and increases chest wall expansion. When you do fast breathing pranayama, it allows respiratory muscles to expand and contract rapidly. As a result, it improves lung function.
Pranayama is a holistic yoga practice that boosts immune system efficiency. It comprises diaphragmatic breathing exercises which engage the entire digestive system. In this way, practicing this can improve the body’s immune response.
Pay attention, and slow down to your breath. It synchronizes the mind with breathing for better concentration.
Pranayama practice aids in digestion by increasing the oxygen supply. If there is more oxygen supply to the gut, it implies more blood flow. That is why there will be better intestinal strength, promoting food absorption.
Deep and slow pranayamas can help hypertension and lower high blood pressure. It also helps patients with heart diseases.
Fast pranayama breathing exercises like kapalbhati are quite helpful in shedding belly fat. It comprises rapid stroke of the abdominal wall in and out with inhales and exhales. This process allows the body to pump oxygen through body cells and exhale more CO2.
Pranayama, like alternate nostril breathing, clears blockages in the nasal cavity. Regular practice of it can keep nostrils free of allergies. That is why it enhances the filtering capacity, which reduces inflammation.
The inflammation in the sinuses can cause nasal congestion and throbbing headaches. Pranayama improves ventilation and acts on the sinuses’ proper drainage. And in turn, it relieves the symptoms of sinusitis.
Pranayama breathing helps slow down the heart rate. It is by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. That is why it brings a relaxing effect on the mind and body, which in turn promotes better sleep.
The skin is the outermost layer in our body that needs oxygen. Its oxygen maintains a radiant glow, and skin cells take this oxygen from the lungs. Practicing deep pranayamas allows the lungs to flush excess carbon dioxide from the body. Then replaces it with a rich supply of cell-energizing oxygen. Furthermore, it oxygenates skin cells by incorporating body locks in pranayama practice.
Breath control is one of the main components of the spiritual upliftment journey. However, you can observe different physical or mental benefits from practicing pranayama. The main goal of its practice is to control the breath through breath control. Then prepares the mind for samadhi and meditation.
For most pranayama techniques, the breath is steady and slow. It is breathed in and out of the nose and down into the belly. Always sit with a relaxed body and straight spine. While practicing Pranayama, let go of any thoughts by focusing on the type of breathing involved with the pranayama.
The first thing to master is exhalation, which should be smooth and slow. Once you master exhalation, inhalation works on smoothing it out, making it slow and long. Therefore, breath retention should not attempt until you have attained a gentle, smooth inhale and exhale.
Let the eyes be soft or closed during your practice. If comfortable, you can gaze upwards at the third eye, the point between the eyebrows.
If you’re feeling emotional, dull, tired, or heavy, a few minutes of yogic breathing can energize you. There are different breathing methods in yoga that affects the experience of meditation. And having a stronger connection with your breath gives a deeper attunement to your mental and emotional bodies. It also helps anchor awareness in the present moment. Moreover, yogis believe that if you can master your breath through pranayama practices, you can also master your mind.
The name of this technique translates into channel purification. It aims to clear the small channels of the mind and body that brings balance to the whole system. You can feel more of the benefits of this breathing technique when you practice it on an empty stomach. Thus, it is best to do it as soon as you wake up.
Sitali Pranayama is a cooling breath. It involves inhaling the breath through the curl of the tongue. Breathe like drinking in moisture-rich air, which cools us down emotionally and physically.
The practice cools the body, adds moisture to the system, and is in the wisdom of Ayurveda. It soothes a pitta imbalance that reduces high blood pressure, fatigue, and bad breath.
The Ocean Breath is also a great cooling breathing technique. It produces a sound that is like calming ocean waves. You will find that this exercise is frequently used in vinyasa yoga.
Start in a comfortable sitting position. Your mouth closes for this exercise. Avoid opening up your throat and inhaling through your nose. Try to constrict your throat until your breathing sounds like soft snoring. Exhale through the nose and focus control of your breath through the diaphragm. Make sure to keep your inhalations and exhalations similar in duration.
Nadi Shodhana is a purificatory pranayama breathing exercise to clean the Nadis of impurities. In this pranayama, breathing is done alternately, one by one, from a single nostril at one time. Therefore it’s also called alternate nostril breathing.
The practice of Nadi Shodhana pranayama helps the mind to become tranquilized. For that reason, it eradicates the problems like anxiety and stress.
The Kapalabhati technique is energizing that aims to clear the lungs, mind, and nasal passages. The translation of the name claims that it brings clarity and lightness. It is the brain’s frontal region, which is responsible for logical reasoning. Therefore, it involves contracting the abdomen, with an active focus on exhalation.
Bhastrika pranayama produces strong gusts of air to activate the fire energy in the navel chakra. It is in return to the whole body. Even though this pranayama is a fast-breathing exercise, its after-effects are calming. It’s worth practicing, especially when you feel anxious, down, or stressed.
Bhramari pranayama is the action of making a light humming sound while practicing yogic breathing. Bhramari is a Sanskrit word derived from bhramar that means “humming black bee.”
The pranayama practices a comfortable seated position like a lotus pose. In a four or six-count breathing pattern, the yogi makes a humming sound similar to the buzz of a bee. It happens during the exhale of the breath. Once you master the sound on the, exhale, you can also attempt the sound during the inhale.
Surya Bhedana or Surya Bhedi is warming pranayama practiced in a seated posture. And by using hand gestures, you block the left nostril while inhaling through the right. It keeps the breath for as long as you can and block the right nostril from exhaling through the left nostril. The same steps are commonly repeated to perform forced right-nostril breathing.
Viloma pranayama is a yoga breathing exercise. It involves a series of interrupted inhalations with pauses. Also, it is frequently followed by a series of interrupted exhalations with pauses.
Typically, it is commonly practiced from a reclined position facing skyward. Start by inhaling a third of the lungs’ capacity, then pause for two or three seconds. Inhale another third, pause, and inhale until you fill your lungs. Afterward, pause before repeating the pattern on the exhale.
Pranayama is the practice of regulating the breath to gain the steadiness of the mind. Prana means life force, and Ayama represents extension. So this practice expands this energy throughout the body. It is a normally deep practice that works on deeper states, mind, and intellect of awareness.
During the practice of Pranayama, it works with our Parasympathetic nervous system. It handles activities while the body is at rest. That is why it helps to neutralize the negative effects of “flight or fight” overactivity.
Generally, 10 to 15 minutes of pranayama practice daily is enough to reap all of its benefits. One should start with 20 minutes of asanas practice. Then do Pranayama breathing fast like bhastrika and Kapalbhati. Afterward, end the session with anulom vilom or Nadi shodhan.
Pranayama increases the oxygen supply to the brain and activates brain centers. It happens in a dormant state under normal conditions. For that reason, it increases awareness, concentration power, emotion processing, and attention.
Mainly there are 8 classical pranayamas. It is commonly known as Kumbhaka. That is why it is commonly mentioned in the classical yoga text Hatha Yoga Pradipika. But today, people practice more than 14 types of pranayamas in yoga.
Doing Pranayama is like any other yoga practice. It is best done in the early morning before sunrise during Brahma Muhurta. Also, many people practice it in the evening at dawn, provided on an empty stomach, or 3 hours after a meal.
Pranayama can reliably produce benefits for the body and brain. It brings clarity of mind that increases lung capacity. That is why it also reduces anxiety and stress, strengthening inner and outer health. Pranayama aims to increase the oxygen intake of the mind. It strengthens the connection between the mind and body, which improves the power of mental strengthening.
Interested in experiencing breathwork with Regina? Regina holds two virtual breathwork sessions a month that you can access from anywhere in the world. Check out www.breathewithregina.com and join us for a session!