Pranayama: so near yet so far!
Nothing in life comes more naturally than breathing. No breath, no life. The science of it answers the physiological questions but it is only through the study of yoga that I realized there was a psychological side to it. It intrigued me that something that we take for granted could have such a deep impact to our overall well-being.
Over the years, as I progressed from “normal” breathing to more synchronized inhales and exhales with each movement in yoga, the differences were glaring. I was able to hold each pose for longer with longer breaths and found each move increasingly easy to achieve as the pace of breathing relaxes. The link between breathing and muscle behavior was like an eureka moment. Along the way, as I learnt about the long-term benefits of different breathing techniques, they also served as a motivation for me to want to pursue and practice in a more focused manner tied in with meditation. Improved concentration, endurance, releasing tension, diminished pain from headaches, relief of sinus pressure, strengthening of the nervous and digestive systems are just some of the minor health conditions I have that I needed improvements from my physiological body.
As I moved into deeper study of yoga, I have struggled a lot with how to perform the various breathing techniques correctly. From kapalabathi to anuloma viloma to nadi shodhana to sitali and sitkari, it is frustrating when I get the beats wrong or breathed using the wrong muscles. Matching the time of the day to perform each pranayama and the different intended benefits is an art form which I can foresee will be a long but fulfilling learning journey ahead for me.