What is Pranayama?
Pranayama is the 4th limb of 8 limbs of yoga. Prana means “vital life force”, and yama means to gain control. Thus, pranayama is a
breathing technique used to control and modify the amount, quality, flow, and direction of vital energy in the body. Pranayama is often
defined as “breath control” and is a primary component in a yoga practice.
How does it work?
The easiest and fastest way to increase the prana in the body is to change our breathing to affect the quality and quantity of air taken
into the lungs. Pranayama is used to control, cultivate, and change the prana in the body. Advanced pranayama is used to cleanse the
impurities and obstructions in the nadis, and eventually unblock the sushumna nadi, allowing the Kundalini prana to flow freely through
this channel and upwards through our seven chakras.
Blocked & opened prana
When your prana flow or energy channels are blocked, you may experience a lack of focus and negative emotions like anxiety, fear,
worry, tension, depression, anger, and grief. When your prana or energy channels are open and flowing freely and smoothly the mind
becomes calm, focused, happy, positive, and enthusiastic.
3 common practiced pranayamas
Adham pranayama (diaphragmatic breathing)
Calm and soothe the body, mind and spirit. Improves digestion and alleviates insomnia.
Sit in a comfortable position with spine straight and long. Put a hand on the upper chest and a hand on the stomach. Inhale slowly through the nose until you feel the stomach rise slightly against the hand. Tryto keep the chest as still as possible. Exhale slowly and feel the stomach fall away from the hand towards the spine. Continue with
these deep breaths for several minutes.
Focus, encourage cleansing, building inner heat and strengthen the lungs.
Sit in a comfortable position with spine straight and long. To make the ocean sound, whisper the syllable “h,” feeling the contraction in
your throat. Keep this contraction engaged on the inhalation and exhalation. You may start with the practice with open mouth for
inhalation and exhalation. After a couple of breaths, try to close the mouth, breathing through the nose while still making the ocean
sound in your throat.
Kapalabhati Pranayama (Skull Shining Breath)
Energizing, detoxifying with a fast rhythm and also tone the abdominal muscles as they use strong abdominal contractions to expel.
Sit in a comfortable position with spine straight and long. Place hands in chin mudra and resting on the respective knees. Inhale through both the nostrils deeply, while focusing on the belly region. Exhale, pull your navel back towards the spine and it should feel like a light outburst; this means it should be fast, while you pull your stomach inwards. During exhalation, you should be able to hear a hissing sound.
If you feel dizzy lightheaded winded or gasping for air, stop the pranayama and take slow, relaxed normal breaths. After practicing
pranayama, lie down to rest in Savasana or a few minutes of meditation. Although there are many benefits in pranayama, that it should NOT be practice for people who are menstruating or pregnant; those who have issue with blood pressure or heart. It is also not be practiced right after meal.
If you have any questions or concerns, consult with your doctor or a health professional before starting pranayama practice.