OK–now how are you feeling? If your answer is still “pretty awful thanks” then you really might want to start paying attention to your pranayama. And if you’re wondering what the heck am I talking about, then you probably want to keep reading to find out.
What is Pranayama?
Pranayama means “the lengthening of the breath.” To be more specific, it is a Sanskrit word composed of Prana, which means either “life force” or “the breath,” and ayama, which means “to lengthen.”
Pranayama is common in yoga and is used as a way to control breathing.
OK–But Why Does Breath Control Matter?
Yoga isn’t just a form of exercise–it’s a combination of mediation and slow exercise that can be used for everything from relaxation and stress reduction to posture and concentration. And proper breathing is an essential component of practicing yoga.
By controlling your breath, you are able to encourage the meditative aspect of yoga. Some people believe that proper breathing can encourage physical health by reducing toxins and aiding in digestion. While we aren’t sure whether or not this is true, we do know that it sure feels good to try!
How to Practice Proper Breathing
There are a few different techniques for practicing breathing in yoga. One of the things I keep in mind is the saying “abdomen, chest, chest, abdomen.”
What this means is that you inhale first in the abdomen, then the chest.
Next, exhale–first the chest, then the abdomen.
This isn’t something most people can perfect right away, so be careful not to strain yourself. Begin slowly by practicing taking deep breaths in and out. For more detailed information on proper yoga breathing, try here or here.
When I first started practicing yoga, I found this video helpful. It emphasizes the importance of proper posture before you begin practicing proper breathing techniques.