Health Habits

Pranayama

 

For the yogi, Pranayama or breath control is an important bridge between the outward practices of Yoga, like the Asanas, and the inward surrendering yogic practices. It is a link between the mind and body, and between the conscious and unconscious. By focusing on the breath the mind becomes calm and balanced.

 

 

 

Practice of Pranayama controls the mind and slows the breath so that the higher life force can manifest. It consists of deepening and extending the Prana until it leads to a condition of peace.

 

Breath, movement, and energy are life, and the yogic practice of Pranayama combines all these elements into a single integrative experience that is a valuable investment and will generate both inner and outer vitality.

 

The first step in Pranayama is training in the use of the entire range of physical breathing. This means experiencing full lung breathing by coordinating the lower, middle, and upper parts of the breathing process.

 

During Pranayama practice, the flow of prana is regulated with mindful observation and distribution of the breath, which allows the mind to become still. As a result, the energy normally spent engaging with and processing the outer world is focused inward. Therefore, while following the breath, the mind is drawn into activities of the breath, resulting in stillness and quietness within.

 

B.K.S. Iyengar teaches that in normal breathing, the brain initiates the action of inhalation and draws energy to itself. This keeps the brain in a state of tension. When the brain is tense, the breath is constricted. But in Pranayama, the brain remains passive, and the lungs, bones, and muscles of the torso initiate the inhalation. Rather than sucking in air, the lungs, diaphragm, ribs, and abdomen receive the breath. He advocates that the breath should ‘be enticed or cajoled, like catching a horse in a field, not by chasing after it, but by standing still with an apple in one's hand. Nothing can be forced; receptivity is everything.’ In addition ‘we are to do Pranayama with our intelligence, as opposed to our brains.’

 

Pranayama is to Yoga, what the heart is to the human body.”

- B.K.S. Iyengar

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