Controlling your Breath

In Raja Yoga, one of the most modern path of yoga also known as Ashtanga yoga – it divides the practice into 8 limbs. One of them is Pranayama and it is one of the practice that I am struggling to keep up with and apply it into my lifestyle.
The word pranayama is derived from two Sanskrit words: prana (life force) and yama (control). The sage Patanjali, in Yoga Sutras, defines Pranayama as “regulation of incoming and outgoing breath coupled with retention. By controlling the breath, you can influence every aspect of your life. You can train yourself to breathe in a way that has a positive influence on your health.
Researchers have documented the benefits of a regular practice of simple, deep breathing, which include:
• Reduced anxiety and depression
• Lower/stabilized blood pressure
• Increased energy levels
• Muscle relaxation
• Decreased feelings of stress and overwhelm
During most of my practice of meditation in class, I often get distracted with the fluctuations in the mind and many a time, guilty of constant struggle to keep awake when I lose concentration in counting my breath. One recent tip that I received is to follow the rhythm of the metronome (app) to count the beat during Nadi Shodhana and that greatly help for a start to channel the concentration to my breathing.
For me, I used Pranayama to help me calm my thoughts when I go into a panic state and it will help greatly if I start to regulate it into my morning to-do list before work and stop my “lack of time” excuse. Here’s something to remember – “Healing is every breath.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Shirley Ang (200hr YTT weekend class)

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