Guide To Pranayama Exercises: The Master Key For Unlocking Your Inner Peace – EDITED
Welcome to our series: Guide to Pranayama Exercises: The Master Key for Unlocking Your Inner Peace. Before we venture into pranayama breathing practices, we’ll first take a few steps back and hike up to about 10,000 feet, for a panoramic view on yoga.
In each article in the series you will learn the necessary preparations and practices of pranayama, as well as how to establish an effective, enjoyable and enlightening pranayama practice in your daily life, so keep checking back. First, take a few minutes and peruse our article, Learn Diaphragmatic Breathing and Change Your Life.
What is Yoga?
Before we begin exploring pranayama exercises, I invite you to rethink and reconsider the use of the term “yoga”. As it is used today in the Western parts of the world, “yoga” typically refers to asana, or postures; the physical, stress relieving relaxation techniques. Yoga studios market hatha yoga and may focus on postures. Yet, hatha yoga is a complete system and spiritual path.
Let’s back up a few nore steps. What is yoga and what are pranayama breathing exercises? Yoga means union, and yoga practices help us unite the various aspects of ourselves and to be in union with life itself. Hatha yoga is one path within the vast science of yoga.
What is Hatha Yoga?
What is hatha yoga? “Ha”-meaning sun and “tha” means moon. Hatha yoga is a way to bring balance to the sun and the moon, or the channels known traditionally as Pingala and Ida, that reside in you.
According to the ancient Yoga texts, hatha yoga is a complete system for physical and mental health and spiritual enlightenment. The practices of hatha yoga include asana (poses or postures), pranayama exercises (breathing practices), concentration (dharana) and meditation (dhyana).
All aspects of hatha yoga are necessary and helpful preparations for meditation. In this article, the focus is on introducing pranayama or breathing exercises. Pranayama is the most powerful practice of hatha yoga. Read our article, Learn Diaphragmatic Breathing and Change Your Life,. The title may seem overstated, but it is not. Why is that? Because…life is breath.
“For breath is life, and if you breathe well, you will live long on earth.” – Sanskrit Proverb
How to Begin Pranayama Exercises?
First, we re-establish diaphragmatic breath. Why do I say re-establish? We came into the world with breath flowing naturally. As infants, our abdomens rise and fall rhythmically, expanding and contracting naturally with each breath cleansing the nervous system, body, and mind. If you have a puppy or a dog, you’ll notice the lower half of the belly expanding with each breath.
Over time, for most of us, our breath becomes tighter, irregular, shallow, and moves from deep diaphragmatic breathing, into the chest. Many people find themselves holding their breath without noticing it. This occurs when there is a sense of a threat or stress and now we’ve parked the nervous system in flight-fight on-going.
What do we experience with this breathing? Anxiety, panic attacks, fatigue, stress, and poor sleep. So, our first step is to retrain ourselves in diaphragmatic breathing. When we have re-established that natural breathing, our lives begin to change.
“When we breath diaphragmatically, how we experience life and how we approach life—comes from a place of grounded, clear, calmness. Life changing.” -Veena
Prana, is the vital force of the universe, It is not the breath, but breath is the vehicle of prana. Prana, is much more subtle energy than the the breath. Yet, we begin by focusing on the observable breath which connects the body and mind.
Pranayama is the most powerful set of practices in hatha yoga because we are working directly with prana, the life force itself. When we re-establish diaphragmatic breathing, when we are guided correctly in pranayama practices by a seasoned teacher, we become conscious of breath as the connection between body and mind. Saumya Ayurveda provides pranayama exercises customized to each client for maximum benefit.
“When breath becomes conscious—then, we have found the master key for unlocking our inner peace. Now we have a direct influence on, and access to, balancing our nervous system and our state of mind transforms.” – Veena
There are many pranayama practices such as nadi shodhana and ujjayi. We will explore more of pranayama in yoga and the benefits of such breathing exercises in our continued series on: “Pranayama Exercises: The Master Key for Unlocking Your Inner Peace.”
Meanwhile, to launch your pranayama exercises read, Learn Diaphragmatic Breathing and Change Your Life which pairs beautifully with our free Guided Practices. Use both as part of your Morning Routine and your Evening Rituals. Eleven minutes in the morning and evening–what a difference you’ll make in the way you feel.
Now that we’ve introduced a framework about yoga, and where pranayama exercises fit in that frame, in our next article on, Pranayama Exercises: The Master Key for Unlocking Your Inner Peace, we’ll provide you a comprehensive guide to pranayama preparations so your pranayama practice is effective, beneficial and enjoyable.
Pranamaya exercises, as part of your custom Ayurvedic plan–the benefits can be truly, life-changing. With a personalized yurveda plan, you can discover how to move deeper into a state of calm focus throughout your day and night.
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