Living The 8 Limbed Path In Today’s World
Part 3: Pranayama
Book 2 Sutra 49 ~ that of a firm posture being acquired, the movements of inhalation and exhalation should be controlled. This is pranayama. Our breathing should be gentle, slow, fully controlled and with great intention. Prana is the life force that without nothing moves or functions.
So how do we incorporate this limb of yoga into our every day life. Well to start we breathe every day. Are we mindful of our breath? Do we pay close attention if we are breathing shallow or deep or retaining our breath. When we become agitated in our every day life the breath usually becomes shortened and shallow. If we were able to maintain awareness and begin to slow and lengthen the breath during our time of agitation, we would feel an overwhelming sense of calm and a much clearer mind. Breathing seems like such a simple task, as we do it without thought. Imagine the benefit to our body if we would focus more on breath control. Much science has proven that deep breathing exercises lower the heart rate. Thus moving us from our sympathetic into our parasympathetic nervous system. Imagine just breathing can do all this.
In some of the ancient text the discussion of complete cessation of breath is the practice of pranayama. In modern practices controlling the breath in through the nose and out through the nose, synchronizing it with movement is pranayama. Taking that concept off the mat, we would allow our breath to match our movement in walking, standing or any exercise we choose. We can also use these ancient practices to control our overall well being. Awareness is the first place to start. Try to notice your breath as often as possible and see if you are breathing deeply or shallow and make an adjustment. Try for a few days a see if you notice a difference in how you think or feel. Try a few deep breaths if you find your self in a hostile situation and see if you are able to handle the situation differently. Before bed try a deep breathing routine, for a few minutes, slowly breath in and out of your nose with all your awareness on your breath. You might just sleep a little better, and we all could use a few more minutes of deep sleep.
The Yoga Sutra’s of Patanjali
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