Take a Breath: Breathing an important aspect of yoga
This article is a very important topic which generally is not taken very seriously or not considered as a separate concept or technique, Breathing. Generally, people focus only on Asana i.e poses and this word is used interchangeably with Yoga which is not right, asana is a part of yoga.
We do different types of exercise like cardio, HITT, dancing, etc. to maintain our body and health and people also use exercise as a source to distress themselves but yoga is different from other forms of exercise. Yoga not only tones and strengthen our body but is a very effective form of exercise to release stress which you will get to read in the article further.
Talking about yoga, it is not just another health regime and it is not restricted to poses or asanas as I mentioned earlier. Yoga comprises asanas and breathing exercises, Asanas make our body flexible and strong whereas breathing and meditation make our mind strong. Breathing helps to regulate our emotions, moods, and thoughts. Asanas with the right breathing technique enhance the effect of yoga and make it more perfect and fruitful. and Meditation with effective breathing techniques makes us focused and bring us to a state of awareness.
In this article, I will mainly talk about the breathing technique i.e. Pranayama, and its benefits. I will also mention the Pranayama types which you can practice daily in less time making you feel fresh.
A very simple but important word and process. There are lots to talk about this topic but very important is to talk about how to breathe, ideal breathing cycles, different types of breathing in different situations, benefits of effective breathing techniques, and so on. Before discussing all this the first and most important thing is to pay attention to the way you breathe.
??? Does it sound strange to you? An act which we are doing since we are born in our mother’s womb, the act which we do involuntarily, so why pay attention??
Breathing tells you about your mood, your state of mind and it regulates your emotions that is why it is said that our way of breathing is linked to our emotions and every emotion has its own breathing rhythm. For example: if you are stressed, worried you tend to have shallow and rapid breathing. If you are happy your breathing is rapid but smooth, if you are feeling relaxed then your breath is deep, slow, and relaxed. So, is it not rightly said that our emotions have its own breathing pattern and rhythm. So is it not important to know each and everything about such an important component of our lives and to pay attention to it.
Such an important component of life is regulated and maintained with a technique called ‘Pranayam’.
Pranayam is a Sanskrit word which means ‘Pran’ means Universal Life Forces and ‘ayam’ means to regulate or to lengthen.
This brings us to our school lessons where we have studied ‘entire universe is made up of energy and so is our body as part of this universe. These energies are life forces and are called ‘Pran’ in Sanskrit. What is Pran and how it flows in our body forming energy centers, the importance of each and every energy center in our life dimensions is already covered in my previous which you can check in the blog 7 Chakras: Know your Whirling Energy Centers.
Now, you may wonder that the word Pranayama does not describe or mean anything related to breathing. The ‘Pran‘ centers or energy centers are aligned in the center of the body i.e. from the base of the spine to the crown of the head, so these energy centers are regulated and maintained with breathing techniques.
Breathing techniques help us to focus on ourselves, to channelize energy in the right direction to activate our energy center which in turn stabilizes our mind and helps to achieve different dimensions of our life.
Benefits of Pranayama
Pranayama keeps our mind calm and focused, as I mentioned before every emotion and mood has its own breathing rhythm and we should pay attention to it. We should analyze our mood by focusing on the way we breathe and thus should always try to bring ourselves back to a state of relaxation.
For example: if you have a bad day at the office, home or school/college or had a fight or disagreement with anyone, our thought becomes negative, cluttered and we tend to take some wrong action or decision or as simple as we get angry on every small thing that happens around us. In such situations, we breathe shallow and rapid. As soon as we realize it the first step should be to take deep and slow breaths to calm ourselves and this makes our mind a little stable and we start thinking in a bit better way than before and allows the right thoughts to flow through our mind. This makes us understand and accept the situation, find solutions, and make us feel positive and strong.
It is very important to keep ourselves productive at the workplace, so along with Pranayama, there are multiple ways to improve productivity.
How to focus on your breathing?
Throughout the article, we spoke so much about breathing, and why to focus on breathing but exactly how to do that? Even without focusing, we are doing that process so efficiently for so long, so what’s new to be done.
For Beginners, it is difficult to focus on breathing and to meditate. Also, the results of these are very slow, therefore people tend to leave it or get distracted. So it is very important to practice breathing and meditating daily and to observe small changes in us.
There are some steps to be followed:
- For beginners, sit in your room with the door closed or any quiet place and find a comfortable place to sit (it should not distract you later)
- Set a timer, for beginning with as small as 2-3 minutes.
- Close your eyes and focus your attention at the center of the eyebrow, and try to cut down external noise.
- Once that is done, bring your attention to your breathing and focus on the process.
- Focus on how the breath travels from the nasal cavity to the lungs passing through the throat.
- Think and feel the lungs inflating, your ribs expanding, and your belly expanding
- As you exhale think about your lungs deflating, stomach flattening and the breath gushing out of the nasal cavity.
Repeat the Process for 3-4 cycles. It is ideal to do 3-4 cycles of breathing in a minute. During this process of inhaling and exhale, remember it is important that the inhaling process is slow at least 4 seconds, more than that we should hold breath this strengths lung muscles, and most important the exhale should be as slow and long as possible making sure that all the air from lungs is exhaled.
Types of Pranayam to be done daily
Though there are different Pranayam types based on your mood, climate, etc. there are a few Pranayam which you should practice daily irrespective of your mood. This technique will help you to focus on meditation, regulate energy in the body, and keep your mind calm.
Most important: Pranayam can be done at any time of the day but on an empty stomach, at least after 2-3 hours after your meal
- Kapal Bhati (Skull shining breathing technique)
This should be done on an empty stomach preferably not even water before this. In Kapal Bhati, sit in Sukhasana or Easy pose (sitting with crossed legs) we inhale and exhale air with force and continuously without holding it. We create this pressure with fast stomach movements. Kapal Bhati helps in detoxifying the body and clearing the energy channels.
- Anulom Vilom (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
Anulom Vilom helps to release stress, anxiety, and makes our mind calm. Procedure for this technique. Sit in an easy pose and right hand in Nasika or Vishnu Mudra (thumb will work at your right nostril and index and middle finger bend towards the palm and ring and small finger will work on left nostril). Then inhale from the right nostril, hold the breath and then exhale from the left nostril with appropriate use of fingers. Then next start the process from left nostril to right nostril. Repeat the process slowly for 3-4 complete cycles.
- Bhramari Pranayam (Bee Breathe)
This technique is useful to clear your cluttered mind or clear other noises sounds from your mind. In this technique, sit in an easy pose, close your ears with both thumbs, eyes with index, middle, and ring fingers, and little fingers near the chin. Take a deep breath and while exhaling creates a humming sound with your mouth. This will create vibration in the body and mind and will clear clutter and other noises. This will help you clear other disturbing thoughts and other opinions in your matter.
- Omkar Pranayam
The word ‘OM’ vibrates in the frequency of 432 Hz and it is the same vibrational frequency that is found in every particle of the universe and also every cell of the body. In this Pranayam, we sit in an Easy pose with hand in dhyana mudra and inhale air deeply and while exhaling we chant OM as long as we exhale the breath through mouth. While doing Omkar pranayama we chant the word Om which connects us to the entire universe and the vibration it creates in our body helps us to connect with every part of the body thus feeling us connected with the body and love ourselves.
These are few of my learnings and experience with Yoga and breathing by practice and reading various articles. Hope this information was useful and can bring the change in way you breathe. Comment down your views and thoughts or any information i missed in this article.