Pranayama – Why it is important to breath correctly?
Why is important to breath?
In my classes, I highlight to my students that breathing is the most important part of our health. If we do not breath correctly, we do not do asanas correctly. Our nervous system can assume that we are in danger and instead of stretching our muscles, it pulls them down to protect us, often causing injury.
Pranayama is often defined as breath control, but it is a simplified meaning. The word pranayama consists of two roots: “prana” + “ayama”. Prana means vital energy or life sustaining force that exists in absolutely everything – being and non-being. This universal life force is what the whole universe is made of and what everything is made of. Prana floats in us and unites us. Ayama means expansion. Thus, pranayama actually means an extension of the dimension of prana, or life energy. Pranayama uses breath control as an aid to influencing the flow of prana in our nadis, or energy channels.
The functions of our body are performed by five types of vital energy (prana). They are known as prana, apana, samana, udana and vyana.
Prana governs the respiratory system. Apana moves in the lower abdomen and controls the excretory system. Samana controls the digestive system and maintains the harmonious functioning of the abdominal organs. Udana is responsible for the intake of air and food and the erect posture of the body. Vyana pervades the entire body, regulating and controlling all movement.
Lifestyle has an impact on the pranic body and its pranas. As we live our lives, we face situations that can imbalance us. Physical activities (sleep, intake of food, exercise,…), emotions, thoughts, stress, restlessness, capriciousness, anger, agitation, irregularities in lifestyle…all this affects the flow of prana in our body.
Our breath is the most living process in the body that influences the activities of every cell and is closely connected with the performance of the brain and other processes in the body. Most people breath incorrectly, using only a small part of their lung capacity and this leads to inner conflict, an unbalanced personality and diseases. Rhythmic, deep and slow breathing stimulates and is stimulated by calm, content, states of mind.
By using the technique of pranayama, we activate and regulate prana, which helps to establish balance in our body.
Health and pranayma
Pranayama is a great tool to purify the mind. Pranayma improves autonomic functions in the body, perception of life and prolongs life. Those who breath in a slow, deep breath rate , such as elephants or tortoises, have longer life than those who breath quickly and shortly. A slow breathing keeps the heart stronger and leads to a longer life. The respiration is directly connected to the heart and so pranayama can cause a change of the cardiac respiratory system, including a reduction in blood pressure.
Learn some breathing exercises you can do everyday and that can help you relieve stress and relax.
This is easiest of all pranayamas. It relieves stress, fear, worry, anxiety and depression. It massages the liver, stomach, intestines and other organs.
You can practice this technique in a sitting or lying position. I do it every night before sleep. It helps me to fall asleep more easily and to feel peaceful. Keep the right hand over your abdomen and the left hand over the centre of the chest. The right hand will move up with inhalation and down with exhalation. As you breath in, feel the abdomen expanding and contracting as you breath out. Do this technique slowly and deeply for a few minutes.
It is a practice which purifies the nadis. It calms all body and energize body. It relieves anxiety, improves concentration and helps people having heart problems, high blood pressure or depression.
Sit comfortably and gently close your eyes. Put the index and middle fingers on the eyebrow centre. Close your right nostril with the thumb and inhale through the left nostril. Now close the left nostril with the ring finger and exhale through the right nostril. Next, inhale from the right nostril and close this nostril and exhale through the left nostril. This is one round. Practice this breathing at least 5 minutes. The time for exhalation and inhalation should be equal.