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Pranayama: The Guide to Yogic Breathing

We have told you about the Jnana Mudra recently, we will now talk about the Pranayama practice, a yogic breathing technique, which goes very well with the Asana practice. So let’s see what Pranayama breathing is, its benefits, its connection to the Asanas, and one of the ways to perform it to begin with.

What is Pranayama?

This means "Extension of vitality". The most common pranayama exercises are exercises in which you are going to work on your inhalation and exhalation, your breath retention, your equal breathing and your alternate nostril breathing (left nostril then right nostril breathing).

Whether you choose Hatha Yoga, Uijay breath, Samavriti breath, Skullshining breath, Samavritti, Kapalabhati or even the yoga sutras of patanjali, all these pranayama breathing techniques will help you to control your vitality (Prana in Sanskrit words) and manage your life force.

Its technique is more or less simple, consisting in regulating and improving breathing. Pranayama is one of eight branches of yoga, such as asanas (i.e., poses often associated with yoga). In these 8 branches, pranayama comes immediately after asanas and before meditation.

There is a connection between our mind and our breath, and it is this connection that is brought to bear when you practice pranayama techniques. By improving its quality, you improve your well-being and relaxation (physically, mentally, physiologically and energetically). So that there is regulation of your nerves and hormones.

 The heigh branches of yoga

The benefits of yogic breathing

The goal of Pranayama is balance above all. A balance in daily life, between action and relaxation. We manage our breathing as well as our energy, all to establish a healthier lifestyle. Certainly this requires a finer technique than for yoga postures, but it also gives deeper results.

It is therefore not easy to get, and it requires first mastering other aspects of yoga before it can be achieved. The optimal situation is where you have already worked your breath through different postures before going to Pranayama. Meditation as well as anchoring to the earth can also be very beneficial, even if the best is to be supervised by a teacher (who attended a training in India or not).

 The Yogic breathing

The link with the Asana

Your teacher certainly often asks you to force yourself to breathe through the nose, even in more demanding postures, which is not always obvious. You have to do this, because the nose acts as a filter that allows you to purify the air you breathe. It is important to follow this rule, even if it is not obvious at the beginning, try to follow it to the maximum.

The rule is, in yoga, a movement will usually be associated with a breath. This comes with time, and breathing through the nose calms you and concentrates you. Some unpleasant postures according to you will then be less painful. For movements such as hip openings, this can help enormously especially if, like me, you find this exercise extremely unpleasant. You will need to visualize the air circulating in your hip while breathing through the nose, which will calm you and forget the pain.

Some exercises to practice pranayama breathing

 A man practicing the Pranayama

What we call basic Pranayama is the one that is important to master before moving on.

Lying or sitting, place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.
It is now necessary to breathe thoroughly, gently while filling the lower abdomen first, gradually going up to the top of the chest.
Exhale in the opposite direction, from the upper chest to the lower abdomen.

In a sitting position, feel (or imagine perhaps at the beginning) the energy that rises from the earth to the sky at inspiration, which descends from the sky to the earth at exhalation.

Pay full attention to your breathing and feel there as subtly as possible

Breathing is a beautiful anchor during meditation practice: focus on the air that enters and exits the nostrils. It is fresh at the entrance and hot at the exit. You can also visualize the air that passes through the belly, lungs, clavicles and upper back and then goes back in the opposite direction.

At work, sometimes take the time to breathe and breathe before key moments of your day. Settle down calmly, thinking of good things and breathe. Always with your hand on your stomach, follow your breath. 

If you liked this article, it is because you are surely someone interested in exceeding the function of yoga. You have specific goals to achieve, and you are convinced that yoga can be a great tool to achieve them. If this is your case, then our article on energy yoga will certainly interest you.

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