Pranayama is the regulation of breath through the utilization of breathing practices and techniques. When you manipulate the breath there is a reaction in your physical body and your mental landscape. A popular yogic text, Light on Pranayama by the renowned B.K.S. Iyengar, is a thorough representation of the many breathing techniques available.
The way in which you breathe, affects every part of your being, from the physical structure of your bones, to the inner anatomy of your organs, all the way into the connection of body to mind.
Your breath is your most powerful tool in life. Your breath is your mediator between you and all of your surroundings. Your breath is the root of your wellness.
Why wait? Try this quick class to introduce you to one of the most common pranayama techniques in yoga!
Why the Breath?
Your breath is your life. When breath ends, life ends. The breath, and in particular, how you breathe, dictates your overall well being and at times, can be an indicator to the quality of your life.
Becoming aware of your natural breathing patterns will shine a light on your current state of being. Observing if you are breathing in and out the nose or through the mouth. Noticing if your breath is shallow or deep, fast or slow. Bringing your focus to the texture of your breath, whether smooth and easy or textured and clipped.
When you start to feel into your breath you can more easily start to feel into your body, becoming more in tune to the sensations you are experiencing internally.
How Change Affects You
When we undergo change, your brain is activated, trying to source familiar neural pathways and information to make sense of what is occurring and sort it out. But change usually means something new is on the horizon or happening and it pushes you out of your comfort zone, stimulating the part of your brain responsible for impulse control. This part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex will then fire over to the amygdala, considered part of the midbrain or the more primitive part of our brain. When the amygdala connection is pushed into gear from the overwhelm of new concepts, it can activate fear and the “fight or flight” response.
When this happens, we as humans are then primed to experience a myriad of physical and or psychological disorientations. These disorientations can manifest as anxiety, anger, overwhelm, and so on.
And so, harnessing the power of the breath can help you to manage change and shifts in day-to-day modern life. If you start to feel a rise of emotions due to something you are experiencing, taking ten minutes to reset with the breath can shift your mood for the rest of the day.
Embrace Your Breath to Embrace Your Life
When you cultivate a deeper relationship to your breath, you create a stronger connection to your present experience and therefore to change as it arises. Breathing is so often done automatically and without much thought—but simply because that is so, does not mean that you are getting the most out of your breath.
By creating a regular pranayama practice, in sync with your yoga practice or alone, you are setting the stage for your body and your mind to move through life with more ease and grace. You enhance your current state of being and prepare yourself to better handle change as it arises.
Benefits of Pranayama
1. Strengthen the Respiratory System
2. Improve the Quality of Sleep
3. Calms the “Fight or Flight” Response to Stress
4. Relieves Symptoms of Chronic Stress
5. Helps Improve the Digestive System
Explore the Purifying Power of Pranayama
Follow along in this series with Adi Amar to experience different styles of breathwork and the power they have on your overall well being.
Article by Sofia Frasca. Sofia is a certified yoga teacher, reiki practitioner, and Megaformer instructor. She calls the Tetons home along with her two dogs. If not at the thrift store or on the trails, she’s a total homebody.