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  • Writer's pictureYoga Haven

Breathe Deeply and Feel Better

One of the best ways to feel better quickly is to breathe deeply. You likely remember someone advising you to take a few deep breaths when you were upset. Within a few moments the positive effects of conscious breathing are felt. The breath’s connection with the mind and body is instantaneous and undeniable. Some say that the breath is like a mirror for your emotions: when you are frightened, the breath becomes quick and rough; when you are relaxed, the breath becomes slow and subtle. Our state of mind is closely linked to the quality of our breathing. And when we consciously control our breathing, we can bring positive qualities to our body and mind. The breath itself is a tool we can use to improve our health and make living more enjoyable.

What is Pranayama or Yogic Breathing?

A major facet of authentic yoga practice is breathwork. We focus on various breathing techniques called Pranayama. This Sanskrit word can be broken down into 2 words: Prana and Ayama. Prana is often described as Life Force Energy – that vital energy that brings us to life. It flows effortlessly and continuously, keeping us alive. We relate to it most easily as breath energy. Ayama means stretching or extending and describes the action of Prana. Thus, Pranayama refers to the technique of regulating Prana by consciously controlling our breath. This technique is a basis for good health.

Pranayama, or yogic breathing, is an ancient technique that has been practiced by yogis for over 5,000 years. It can be broken down into 3 parts: inhalation, exhalation and the pause in between - breath retention. In yoga, we practice various breathing techniques that use these 3 parts, such as: Dirga Swasum (3 part deep breathing), Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing), Kapalabhati (quick diaphragmatic breathing) and Ujjayi (a deliberate contracting of the air passage). Each of these breathwork techniques is designed to improve your health and help you feel better.

What are the Benefits of Pranayama?

The benefits of Pranayama are profound. It calms and steadies the mind; can clear emotional blockages; releases toxins from the blood; and expels stale air from the lungs, making way for more life-giving oxygen. The additional oxygen nourishes the whole body while the release of carbon dioxide allows the body to work towards full capacity. Pranayama breathwork is recommended for people suffering from insomnia, mental tension and depression, among other things. But every ‘body’ benefits from these positive effects. And every mind benefits as well. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali teach us that when we breathe using Pranayama, a veil is gradually drawn away from the mind to reveal a growing clarity. The mind is then well prepared for deep meditation. And, we might add, well prepared to feel better and live a healthier, happier life!

Where Can I Practice Pranayama Near Me?

Come and experience the benefits of pranayama for yourself. Visit Yoga Haven, where we offer several weekly classes specifically designed to include Pranayama practice to help you add yogic breathing to your self-care routine. Visit www.winterhavenyoga.com for more information.

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