Pranayama: the Science of Breathing
Yogis believe that our breath is closely connected with our mind. So in order to calm and balance what’s going on in your head, you have to bring your breath in order first. And it’s not an easy task, since we hardly ever pay attention to our breathing pattern at all.
Described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras as a tool that helps to reach higher states of awareness, pranayama can be translated as control of prana – the upward flowing vital energy of the body. Pranayama consists of exhales or rechaka pranayama, inhales or puraka pranayama and retention of breath or kumbakha pranayama.
Due to our hasty life rhythm, we tend to breathe too quickly. Shallow, quick breaths do not supply enough oxygen to reach every cell in our body. This also causes our lungs to lose their vitality.
So one of the obvious benefits of pranayama is that it teaches us the right way to breathe – slowly and deeply, using our lungs to the full, improving blood circulation and supplying more oxygen to the bodily organs.
Improved breathing brings about positive changes to your overall condition and health by removing toxins and waste products out of your system.
Another benefit is development of concentration skills, which helps you de-stress and relax. It takes away negative thoughts and emotions, providing for the feeling of inner peace and harmony.
Some major types of pranayama include Nadi Sodhana, Ujjayi, Kapalabhati, Bhastrika and Bhramari. All of these have different effects on your body. If you decide to take up pranayama, you should do so under the guidance of an experienced teacher, because pranayama done wrong could do you harm.