Breath is the most important aspect of our life. We came into this beautiful world by taking our first breath and we are going to leave this world one day by taking our last breath. Between these two our life exists. Breath is something that happens involuntarily as per the process of our respiratory system. However, we can choose to control our breath and bring the respiratory rate back to normal by practicing pranayama. As per Yogic text, the length of life is determined by the number of breaths. The lesser number of breaths, the longer the life and vice versa.
In our daily life, we have forgotten how to breathe. As this is an involuntary process, we have taken it for granted by breathing shallow most of the days. Anatomically when someone breathes shallow not enough oxygen is inspired into the lungs which doesn’t allow the blood purification to happen efficiently and thereby affecting the overall immune system.
Pranayama is an ancient Yogic practice followed by a lot of people to ensure there is good control in every inhale and exhale. The goal of Pranayama is to connect your body and mind and create that focused approach towards attaining a mindful way of living.
Some of the benefits of pranayama:
- Improves lung function and capacity: Our lung functions like a balloon, the deeper you inhale, the more it gets adapted to the increased lung capacity. So Pranayama which is a combination of deep breathing and some quick active breathing definitely helps in improving the lung capacity
- Reducing stress levels: Pranayama practice activates the parasympathetic state where we are only focused on our breath.
- Improves Sleep Quality: The stress relieving effects of Pranayama works on improving the sleep quality. If someone suffers from insomnia, regular practise of Nadi shodhan and yogic breath will help a lot.
- Increases mindfulness: As with any other practice, it won’t come easy to someone who is not used to focusing on their breath. But once in the flow, it will help a great deal to increase the awareness and mindfulness of every breath. You can easily make out during the day how your breath patterns are changing based on the climate, situation, food you eat etc.
- Helps in the overall health and wellness: Pranayama combined with asanas are proven very beneficial to improving the immune system. Also as a part of Pranayama, there are some cleansing activities which are called as Shatkarma in which the nasal passage and the oral passage are cleaned using warm salt water. This is very good to ensure that our system is cleansed from within regularly and thus saves us from any infection or viral disease.
2 Pranayama that can be practiced by anyone
- Anulom Vilom : Alternate Nostril breathing. Close your right nostril and inhale through your left nostril, then close the left nostril and exhale through your right nostril. Repeat this from the right side and that becomes your one round of anulom vilom. It is suggested we start from 6 counts inhale and 6 counts exhale and slowly increase the count as we get comfortable. Perform this for at least 10 mins to see a considerable difference in the breathing patterns
- Yogic breath: In this one should breathe to their fullest potential. So we inhale through our abdomen, then chest and then clavicle, and exhale through our clavicle, chest and abdomen. Usually this should be done with a minimum count of 6 inhale and 6 exhale and then dynamically increase the count till 12 inhale and 12 exhale. A 10 min practise of this Pranayama will help to reduce a lot of stress built up in the day and relax your mind and body.
Apart from the above 2 Pranayamas there are a few that can be practised which also works on increasing the strength of our breathing muscles like diaphragm and intercostal muscles. But there are restrictions to these practises. Some of these practises include Kapalbhatti, Ujjayi breathing, Bhastrika, Sheetali, Sheetkari, Bhramari
In Bali Yoga Ashram’s 200 hour Teacher Training Course in Bali, we take you through each of these practices in detail by explaining the theory as well as making you do regular practice. So do join our upcoming batch of Teacher training in Bali with Bali Yoga Ashram