Breathing. It is something most of us are not consciously aware of. Most of us breath in a very shallow way, barely dipping below the surface of the deep and nourishing experience that pranayama practice can gift to us.
Why is Conscious Breathing Important?
When you breathe, most often, you don’t consciously say to yourself “I am breathing in, I am breathing out”. Your body will continue to breathe without you having to think about it, because Breath keeps you Alive. Your breath contains within it the power to heal, to energize, to bring calmness & rest. Your breath enables you to slow down your thoughts. Your breath allows you to digest – food, words, thoughts, emotions, physical sensations. And all these things also arise from the breath.
When you learn how to control your breathing, you learn to also control your mind. Imagine being able to consciously choose all of your thoughts all of the time. You would have the ability to successfully complete any challenge that life threw at you. You have this ability within you today – and it all lies within the breaths you take.
Pranayama Can Help
Pranayama can help you learn how to control your breathing, which can help you in your life in a variety of ways. You can calm yourself down by breathing deeply & slowly. You can quickly energize your body with Breath of Fire or Bellows Breath. There is even a man alive today who can consciously control his immune system with a special breathing technique. His name is Wim Hof, otherwise known as the Iceman.
How Can Pranayama Help Me?
Practicing Pranayama begins helping you immediately, and with practice you will experience long term benefits such as:
Less Stress: Three Part Breathing
In order to reduce your stress levels, you need to learn how to breathe slowly and deeply. One great technique you can try is Three Part Breathing.
Try It Now! Lie down comfortably – on a bed or the floor. You can have your knees bent, feet flat if that is more comfortable on your back. Place one hand on your abdomen, and one hand over your heart. Take several deep breaths, seeing if you can breathe into your abdomen. Take several more breaths, seeing if you can breathe into your chest. Next, see if you can breathe into your belly, continuing the breath up through your ribs and chest – counting to 3 in your mind (1. Belly 2. Ribs 3. Shoulders) Take 5-10 deep breaths like this.
More Energy: Breath of Fire
Wouldn’t it be nice to find something that could give you energy quickly? Breath of Fire is also known as “Shining Skull” because it helps to bring more oxygen into your body. (A lesser known side effect is that it strengthens your abdominal muscles from the inside out!)
Try it Now! Sit comfortably – cross legged is best, but you can sit in a chair if you prefer. Draw your belly button in towards your spine, and then let it go. Now try it again, but this time with more force, so that when you let your belly out again, you automatically take a breath in. Practice this a few more times.
To practice Breath of Fire, exhale forcefully several times in a row, allowing the inhales to happen naturally. Do about 10 – 20 breaths to start. Take a few normal breaths here and see how you feel. You will be able to slowly build up the number of breaths you take over time.
Natural Happiness: Cleansing Breath
We all feel down sometimes – some of us feel sad more often than others. Often there are pent up emotions inside of you that are creating a pressure within your body. The Cleansing Breath is a wonderful way to release these stored sensations, and helps to create space for something new to arise – Happiness!
Try It Now! Take a deep breath in through your nose, and exhale through your mouth. Make it a sigh, or even a moan. If you yawn, that is perfectly normal and a great way to release energy. See if you can breathe deeply into your belly, pulling in as much air as you possibly can, and then exhale fully out your mouth again. Try 3-5 cleansing breaths at regular intervals throughout the day. A great place to practice is when you are using the washroom, as it is a frequent routine throughout your day.
How does breathing enhance yoga?
Proper breathing in yoga greatly enhances the healing powers of the poses. The breathing you do in yoga is just as important as the pose itself. Your breath can also indicate if you are pushing yourself too hard in a pose – if the breath is shallow or laboured, you are forcing your body into the pose. A great tip: You should be able to breathe deeply and completely in the poses. If your breath is shallow or uneven, simply soften the pose just a little by relaxing your belly.
The process of moving more deeply into poses is very much about building up trust between your body and your mind. If you respect your body’s limits, just reaching slightly further than where your stretch begins, you will advance your practice at a much more rapid pace.
Pranayama Helps You Live Better
Practicing pranayama is a wonderful way to bring yoga off your mat and into your everyday world. If you practice these three simple breathing techniques regularly, you will reap the benefits of less stress, more energy and increased happiness!
Bio: Nicole Aracki has been a yogi for 15 years, and has been teaching for 5 years. Her teaching style is deep, powerful and incredibly relaxing -A treat for your mind, body & soul. Nicole is a Reiki Master and a Reflexologist. She has an intuitive style of teaching and her students often comment that they feel as though she were talking personally to them.