Updated: Feb 18
No need to know Sanskrit to understand that breath is life.
You can stop eating for a while, or even drinking, but how long could you stop breathing?
Moreover, are you really sure that you know how to breath? Are you properly relaxed to make the most of the air you inhale?
Pranayama is the yogic term for the practice of breath control in yoga. Even before any complex techniques of breathing, the goal has always been to be aware of one’s breathing. This is a step so simple that anyone can immediately do it, and this is the foundation of Pranayama: being aware of the breath. This awareness allows us to rediscover our breath pattern. Breathing is supposed to be natural, but usually we are breathing too fast and not deeply enough.
After some progress on this essential part, you can go forward by lengthening your breath. This is the second fundamental step. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali suggests that the breath should be both long (dirge) and smooth (suksma).
Another interesting fact, present in many f spiritual traditions, is that air is not just physical; it is the vehicle of a more subtle energy called, in the yogic tradition, Prana. We will write in another blog in detail about this energy and the way to use it in practice. For now, let us stress that prana can be absorbed through the channels of the sinuses during nasal breathing. So, all techniques of breathing, with a few exceptions, are performed through the nose.
We use this pranic energy, along with the oxygen, for several purposes. It helps to calm us down, to focus, to clear the mind, to relax and sometimes to energize. It balances our nervous system, improves our sleep, and relieves stress and anxiety.
With these two simple breathing exercises, that everyone can easily do, we will quickly affect our stress, mood and energy levels in very positive ways.
Often simple things are better than complicated instructions and can be the foundation for real transformation. Let’s do it now!