Are you familiar with the term pranayama? If you practice yoga in a western yoga studio or only use yoga as a physical practice to strengthen, tone, and become more flexible, then the word “pranayama” might not be a word you resonate with.
And that’s ok! That’s why I’m here!
In Sanskrit, the word “pranayama” means “to have control of your vital life force.” Generally, this refers to yogic breathing and/or breath work. It is the practice of regulating breath.
Pranayama is a main component of yoga, often practiced in conjunction with traditional meditation sessions but also used in the physical practice of yoga as well.
There are so many benefits to pranayama and yogic breathing that I can’t even get to them all here. But for those of you who are familiar with pranayama and have experience with various forms of yogic breathing techniques, I teach several intermediate and advanced level pranayama and meditation sessions at MyYogaTeacher!
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For those of you who haven’t yet been exposed to the power of ancient pranayama and meditation therapy, let me explain…
There are many different ways to practice yogic breathing. All of them are beneficial in different ways. For beginners, it’s important to learn about the ancient pranayama techniques from a yoga instructor who is experienced in the practices and qualified to teach them!
Some of the different types of pranayama include:
Humming bee breath
Alternate nostril breathing
Pranayama is a form of meditation. Meditation is a form of therapy. An ancient form of physical, mental and emotional healing that I’ll discuss here!
Because breathing is a natural, unconscious process, we tend to not think about it unless there’s something wrong with our respiratory system. We undervalue the ability of breath to enhance our health and life.
However, breathing exercises have therapeutic effects on our central nervous system. If anecdotal evidence from ancient times to present wasn’t enough, researchers have now proven in multitudes of studies that purposeful yogic breathwork:
Increases oxygen to your brain and vital organs
Decreases cortisol levels that can cause inflammation and compromised immunity
Improves sleep quality and quantity while also reducing snoring and sleep apnea
Reduces high blood pressure
Improves lung function
Enhances cognitive performance
And so much more!
Traditional meditation and breathing sessions, when practiced regularly, can literally transform your life. Which makes sense since breath is, quite literally, your life force.
Many times, our mental and emotional state is a reflection of our physiololgical one. When we’re in chronic pain, struggling with illness or disease, or our bodies are trying to heal from an injury, we may struggle with depression, anxiety, anger. We may not think as clearly or make the best decisions.
However, mental and emotional struggle can come from other things too. Trauma, abuse, neglect, loss of a loved one, chemical imbalances, life stressors, and not living in the present moment.
Yogic breathing techniques and meditation practices benefit our mental and emotional wellbeing, whether it’s from physiological problems or not.
Ancient pranayama sessions (such as the ones I focus on in some of my sessions and workshops) address the five primary currents of breath, or vital force, and these currents are specific to certain regions of the body. They’re called the five prana vayus.
Practicing breathing exercises that correspond to these prana vayus is a powerful tool to improve our mental and emotional health. Studies show that yogic breathing:
Increases mindfulness, helping us to stay present and not worry about future or past
Activates our parasympathetic nervous system (aka the rest and digest system)
Helps our body release feel good chemicals like serotonin and endorphins
Increases self-awareness, which helps us address our emotional health in a positive way
Decreases pain and tension, which often contributes to negative mental and emotional states
There is so much that ancient pranayama and meditation does to improve your life!
Therapeutic meditation and yogic breathwork isn’t to be taken lightly. If you are just beginning your yoga journey and are interested in how other aspects of your yoga practice, such as breathwork and meditation, will bring healing and harmony to your world, I do recommend seeking out a highly qualified yoga instructor to guide you.
Most, if not all, of MyYogaTeacher’s expert yoga instructors are more than qualified to help you! We value authentic, traditional yoga and truly care about the health and wellbeing of our students. For us, yoga isn’t just a class. It’s the way we live our life.
Not a MyYogaTeacher member? Whether you’re interested in teaching yoga, starting yoga, or growing in your yoga journey, MyYogaTeacher is a great place to do it!
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Yoga teachers who become friends, who truly care about you!
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