HOW TO PRACTICE PRANAYAMA
Pranayama is an important part of the practice of yoga that focuses on the breath. Otherwise known as “controlled breathing”, there are lots of different pranayamas that you can choose to practice depending on what you want to gain from it.
Different pranayamas can be used to increase focus, reduce stress, build up your inner fire, and promote sleep.
In this article, we will look at the benefits of pranayama, how to practice pranayama, as well as a few specific pranayamas that you can try!
THE BENEFITS OF PRANYAMA
Pranayama is the fastest way to learn about, understand, and control our breath (or our life force). Here are some of the incredible benefits of the practice.
- Improves mindfulness – pranayama takes concentration, and by concentrating on our breathing we are being more mindful of our bodies and the present moment.
- Stress relief – pranayama calms the nervous system, which in turn can lead to stress relief and improved sleep.
- Reduces blood pressure – by concentrating on breathing slowly and deeply we can calm the nervous system, which will reduce our blood pressure.
- Improves lung function – breathing slowly and deeply for a long period of time can improve the strength and capacity of our lungs.
- Improves concentration – by practising pranayama we focus on the present moment, improving our concentration and focus.
ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING
This practice is great for improving concentration and calming the body down in preparation for sleep.
- Take a breath in through the nose.
- Using the right hand, block the right nostril with the thumb and exhale through the left.
- Inhale through the left nostril.
- Block the left nostril with the thumb and exhale through the right nostril.
- Inhale through the right nostril.
- Block the right nostril with the thumb and exhale through the left.
- Repeat for up to 5 minutes.
The ‘3 parts’ are the abdomen, the diaphragm, and the chest. By concentrating on breathing into each area we can ensure that we’re taking full inhales and delivering oxygen-rich blood around the body.
- Breathe in 3 parts – inhale into the abdomen, the diaphragm, and the chest.
- Exhale in 3 parts – start with the chest, then the diaphragm, then the abdomen.
This practice is great for improving energy and warming up the body when you’re feeling a little cold.
- Take a deep breath in, then exhale sharply as you draw the navel towards the spine.
- Continue sharp and purposeful exhales with the inhales being passive and happening automatically.
- Try 30 rounds followed by deep breaths – if 30 feels like too much, start with 15 rounds.
How to make the most of your pranayama practice
Here are a few tips for making the most of your pranayama practice.
- Practice daily! Daily practice will help you to experience the incredible benefits of pranayama.
- Choose a quiet spot. Try to practice pranayama in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for 5-10 minutes. Practising in silence will make it much easier to focus on your breath and remain mindful.
- Experiment with various techniques!