After discovering the practice of pranayama, I shifted from mindlessness to mindful breathing and it transformed how my body managed mental, emotional and physical pressure.
Breathing is mechanical for most of us, but we don’t seem to understand the importance of breathing as a life force. We have heard the phrase, “breath of life” way too many times but for some reason, the conscious awareness of rhythm has been set aside as a way life. So what exactly does this word pranayama mean?
“Pranayama” is a Sanskrit word. When split, prana means “life force” and ayama means “extension”.
Pranayama as a whole can be defined as the conscious awareness of breath, that not only keeps you alive but energizes and relaxes the body. Hence why it remains an integral part of yoga practice and meditation.
How does it work?
It’s not as tedious as you think and you might be thinking you’ve been doing it wrong all your life. There’s no such thing as “wrong”, we just forgot to add one simple step along the way.
Yap! there are 3 steps of pranayama which include:
- Puraka (inhalation)
- Kumbhaka (Retention)
- Recaka (Exhalation)
A slow and deep inhalation contributes to an adequate intake of oxygen for the body which is followed by the total retention of the inhaled oxygen, that enables the respiratory system to acquire. Then exhalation (which done through the lungs or abdomen) simply eliminates impurities from the body.
Benefits of Pranayama
The benefits are endless but we’ll list down a few:
- Improves lung function
- Facilitates the elimination of toxins
- Treats depression and anxiety
- Aids digestion
- Promotes weight loss
- Stimulates the spleen chakra (very effective for energy healers)
- Strengthens the immune system
- Improves mental concentration
- Promotes good skin health
Breathing is an art that should be embraced by everybody, from the young to old, it goes way beyond and becomes the art of healthy living. Now you have every reason to practice mindful breathing. In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing the different types of pranayama, so stay tuned for more.