The Power of Pranayama: 3 Simple Yogic Breathing Techniques to Improve Your Health and Well-Being – Part 2

Pranayama, or breath control, is an ancient yogic science that is an essential component of yoga. The term pranayama is derived from two Sanskrit words: "prana," which means vital energy or life force, and "yama," which means control. Rather than controlling the breath, ancient scriptures define pranayama as a yogic practice that aims to expand the breath. Through regular practice, one can feel and guide the pran to improve one's physical, mental, and emotional health.

Pranayama, or yogic breathing, is an essential component of hatha yoga. It’s a centuries-old technique that has been practiced in India and other parts of the world for thousands of years. It is a simple yet effective method for improving health and quality of life.

The benefits of Pranayama

Pranayama has numerous health and mental benefits. Here are a few examples:

  • Stress and anxiety are reduced: Regular pranayama practice can help to calm the mind, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve mental health overall.
  • Improves lung function: Pranayama can improve lung function by increasing the amount of oxygen taken in and improving the respiratory system's efficiency.
  • Immune system booster: Pranayama can help boost your immune system, making you less susceptible to illness and disease.
  • Improves focus and concentration: Pranayama can help to improve focus and concentration, making it easier to complete tasks and stay in the present moment.

Three Simple Pranayama Techniques to Try at Home.

First, find a quiet and peaceful location where you can sit comfortably with your spine straight and your eyes closed. If this is too difficult for you, you can do it while lying down or standing. It is critical to focus on the breath and try to maintain a steady and even rhythm throughout the practice.

Regardless of the technique, beginners should begin with shorter durations of 3–6–12 minutes and gradually increase the time as they gain comfort with the practice. Practice a minimum of once per day for 21 days to start observing the benefits of pranayama. 

Pranayama is best practiced in the morning, before breakfast. This is because the body is naturally relaxed after a good night's sleep, and the mind is clear and focused. Pranayama, on the other hand, can be practiced at any time of day as long as it is done on an empty stomach.

It is always best to practice under the supervision of a qualified yoga teacher, but those three pranayamas are generally safe to do on your own. If you experience any discomfort while performing, just stop doing it. 

  • Diaphragmatic breathing – Adham Pranayama is a technique that involves breathing deeply into the diaphragm, allowing the belly to expand on inhale and contract on exhale. Just breathe in and out from the nose, without making a sound and trying to bring the air down towards your belly button. It may help to bring your hands on your belly as well so you can feel the expansion and contraction of your abdomen at each breath. 
  • Box Breathing: Sama Vritti Pranayam is a simple pranayama technique that involves inhaling for four counts through the nose, holding the breath for four counts, exhaling through the nose for four counts, and holding the breath for four counts. Repete this cycle several times, paying attention to the quality and rhythm of your breath. The breath should be deep and calm. 
  • Regulated breathing practice - Niyankrit Shwas Pranayam -: In this practice, one inhales slowly and deeply through the nose, holds the breath for a few seconds, and then exhales slowly and deeply while maintaining control over the breath. For example, you could inhale for four counts, hold your breath for two counts, and exhale through your nose for six counts. This technique can be performed while seated, with the emphasis on slow, deep breathing.

Pranayama is a powerful ancient practice that can improve your physical, mental, and emotional health. Regular pranayama practice can help you learn to expand your breath, reduce stress and anxiety, improve lung function, boost immunity, and improve focus and concentration. Why not give it a shot? Incorporate some of these simple pranayama techniques into your daily routine and get in touch to share your experience.

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Learn more about pranayama and experience its benefits in a small group setting; join our hatha yoga class in Agii Pantes, but we will be moving our yoga shala to Vamos very soon.

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