Pranayama

Lucy Alves Yoga

Your Online Yoga Studio

 

"For breath is life,

and if you breathe well

you will live long on earth."

~Sanskrit Proverb

Pranayama

(energy retention or extension)

 

In yoga breath, life, and energy are basically one, Prana. When we practice this, we practise Pranayama.

 

As a yogi, or yogini, you will be aware that all we are, all we do is controlled by energy, or Prana. We receive Prana through food, water, and air. This energy transforms and allows us to remain what we are, a living human being, one with the world surrounding us, because energy lies in the heart of all things.

 

The light of the sun, the nutrients in the water and soil, and the carbon dioxide in the air give the plant energy to grow and produce seeds for us to harvest. When we eat those seeds, and breath the oxygen they produce they give us energy, which we give the plants back through the carbon dioxide we produce when we exhale.

 

In Hatha yoga we work to control this energy, and when we do so by controling the breath we practise Pranayama.

 

One of the meanings of the word Hatha itself is force, or energy. Hatha yoga teaches that we can balance our energy, enhance it even by practicing poses, relaxation, and most of all by performing pranayama, or yogic breathing.

 

When we are aware of our breath and breathe consciously we are not only able to bring more oxygen to the body, but also influence the central nervous system (the vagus nerve) and enhance the cellular processes.

 

Breathing better makes you feel better.

 

Remember that to come to better breathing all excercises have three steps, inhalation (Puraka), Retention, or holding of the breath (Kumbhaka), and exhalation (Rechaka). All forms of Pranayama utilise all three albeit not in equal measures.

 

Pranayama can be excersised standing in Tadasana, in a comfortable sitting position (Sukhasana, Siddhasana, or Padmasana), kneeling in Virasana, and some even in Shavasana. It might require the use of your internalenergy locks, your Bandha's, or need you to fully relax apart from the diaphragm.

Gaiam TV Logo

 

There are several Panayama excercises. Below I've listed a few. If you click on them it will take you to a page where the technique is explained.

(orange is an active link, I will add more during the coming days)

 

- Calming Breath (Ujjayi Breath)

- Energising Breath

- Healing Breath

- Giving and Receiving Breath

- Humming Bee Breath (Bhramari)

- Regulated Breath (Sama Vritti Pranayama)

- Standing Complete Breath

- Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Sodhana, or Anuloma Viloma)

- Cleansing Breath (Kapalabhati)