Throughout thousands of years yogis have observed that the breath reflects the state of the mind they used it to gauge one’s mental state, a person when agitated, his or her breathing is shallow and fast, and when a person is in the presence of fear the breathing is heavy or even hold.In the state of depression or sadness the breath often is expressed as a sighing. It was discovered after much observation that by changing the breathing patterns, the mind was affected and changed.
After much research and practice it became a fact that we can direct our breath (Prana} with our thoughts due the fact that breath and mind are deeply interwind and that wherever one goes the other proceeds to follow. That is why many Pranayam practices direct thoughts to an affected area and directly send the Prana to that site desired and by that revitalize that site for whatever outcome desired when the intention was set.
In the ancient Indian system of yoga they identified prana as the universal life force or energy which distinguishes the living from the dead, WOW here is a conscious place for us to thank every breath we take don’t you think?
These yogic seers observed the power of the breath to increase one’s prana and were guided to developed special breathing techniques to increase life energy, maintain health and create a calm, clear state of mind that is conducive for meditation and to maintain our whole wellbeing in alignment.
Sources of Prana can be found in fresh food rather than canned ( it really relates to life force), frozen or stale foods. Similarly, vegetarian foods are said to be generally of high prana, while meat, being dead, is considered low or even negative prana, the fresher the source the more life in it, doesn’t that make sense?.
For more in-depth articles and research on breathing from authorities in the field click the button below, we would like to offer this extended information for the ones that are searching for a deeper knowledge on this subject.
As we go along with the explanation of Pranayam we will have guided meditations and exercises to direct intention and breath to different parts of you so you can practices guided Pranayam and get used to sourcing your well being with mindfulness.
Breathing is one of the basic human functions yet it is the most powerful force that keeps us alive. When we are aware of our breath, we are at a source that creates the life for us.
Breathing connects our mind with the body and lets us expand and there we are in rhythm with life, nature and by that with it all.
About 18 – 20 times a minute, you breathe in and out, keep in mind that this is an average count.
This is how one of your vital signs is measured, called “respiration.”
This phenomenal exchange works with the assistance of the red blood cells in your bloodstream.
Your red blood cells will show up at the sacs called alveoli in your lungs at just the right time, ready to trade in old carbon dioxide that your body’s cells have made for some new oxygen you just breathed in. During this process, the red blood cells turn from purple to a sparkling red color as they start carrying the oxygen to ALL the cells in your body another miracle that we are not aware of for the most part the amazing work of our bodies.
The carbon dioxide (waste) that your body can’t use will go through the lungs, back up your windpipe and out with every single exhale to nature and she can use it as food to return it to us in the form of oxygen how fantastic is that we feed each-other once again. This is a chemical exchange of breathing in and out (inhalation/exhalation). This is an automatic process that you don’t even have to think about.
Now, let’s move into some powerful Pranayam breathing exercises.
The basis for all deep breathing practices originates in the science of yoga, specifically the branch of yoga known as pranayama. The word pranayama is derived from two Sanskrit words: prana (life force) and Yama (control). By controlling the breath, you can influence every aspect of your life. You can train yourself to breathe in a way that has a positive influence on your health.
Chest breathing refers to breaths taken from the top lobes of the lungs that use the chest muscles to inflate the lungs by pulling on the rib cage. In chest breathing, the chest expands and contracts with each breath while the abdominal area does not place your self in front of a mirror and pay attention were are you breathing from if your shoulder rise when you breath you are breathing from your chest. These breaths tend to be short and quick, using only a small portion of the lungs and delivering a relatively minimal amount of oxygen to the bloodstream this form of breathing is very common and much more acute with stress and anxiety. Chest breathing is often associated with hyperventilation and a sensation of feeling out of breath, as you attempt to take in oxygen quickly despite the low air volume from each breath and a limited amount of oxygen absorbed.
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Stomach breathing, is also named belly or diaphragmatic breathing, and it refers to breaths that use your entire lung capacity. The diaphragm and abdominal muscles pull down on the abdominal cavity to fully inflate the lungs as we breath in. The chest expands very little if at all while stomach breathing, as the abdominal area expands significantly. Breaths taken while stomach breathing are slow and deep, taking longer to inhale and exhale and delivering a significantly larger amount of oxygen to the bloodstream. As we breath out and we fully exhale try to exhale a little more to get all the air out this increases the amount of oxygen that we can take in when we take the next breath please be gentle with this proves don’t force it just gently direct the great with awearnes. The larger amount of air intake also allows you to exhale a larger amount of carbon dioxide, eliminating it from your body at a more efficient rate when we exhale, try to be conscious of your breathing through your day and you will see a large improvement on your whole wellbeing, a good place to focus your breathing is when you are driving an stop at a light is safer that when you are actually driving and loose attention to the road, you will be surprised how it will help you relax and coupe with the stress of driving, (please use common sense don’t sink in a breathing practice when you need to pay attention to your driving).
Find a comfortable, quiet place to sit or lie down. You can try it sitting in a chair or lying on your back choose what fells best and wont distract you.
If you’re sitting in a chair, let your head, neck, shoulders, and your whole body relax. You don’t need to sit straight in a way that is tense and uncomfortable, you don’t want to slouch and cut the supply of oxygen coming in either just be conscious to keek your spine erected.
If you’re lying down, you can place a pillow under your knees (or keep your knees bent) for comfort just relax and sink in slowly with each breath you take more and more.
Place one hand on your upper chest.
The other hand should be below the breast bone (also called the
sternum) and above the navel. This stomach area is called the
epigastric region between your bellybutton and the sternum.
Breathe in slowly through your nose. The air going through your nose should move downward so that you can feel your stomach rise with the hand that is on top of your stomach. Don’t force or push your abdominal muscles outward just be aware of the oxygen that is entering and filling up this area.
The movement (and the airflow) should be smooth, and it should
ideally involve your epigastric area ( from above the bellybutton to
your sternum, not your entire abdomen.
Make sure that the hand on your chest remains still.
Breathe Out Through Your Mouth
Let your stomach area relax. You should feel the hand that’s over your belly fall inward (toward your spine) as you exhale completely. Don’t force your stomach inward by squeezing or clenching your muscles work with your breath effortlessly.
Exhale slowly through slightly pursed lips like you are blowing a candle or just breath out through your nose naturally without forcing it.The hand on your chest should continue to remain still.
The frequency of this breathing exercise will vary according to your health, and dedication the sequence is often done three times when you’re beginning the practice I personally use this particular way of breathing when I have anxiety, you are the master of your consciousness so you will know when is the time to practice. For most part people can work up to 5 to 10 minutes one to four times a day since it can be done anywhere any time you choose what is right for you, the key is to be consistent with it.
If you feel lightheaded at any time, discontinue the breathing exercise. If you’re standing, sit down until you’re no longer lightheaded this will tell you you are over doing it for one.
Enjoy and persist in the practice and it will reward your efforts in a huge way.
Conscious breathing exercises, or pranayama, are a big part of yoga, and they’re defenetly among the key tools for total wellbeing. In Western contexts, diaphragmatic breathing is the most commonly known breathing technique but new scientific research is beginning to shed light on other pranayama techniques and their benefits.
The process of breathing is connected directly at the interface of our voluntary nervous system, main aspects of our physiology that are under our conscious control and our autonomic nervous system the aspects generally not under our conscious control. It’s a direct path for us to communicate quickly with our brain via what we do with our breath. It also offers a direct link for balancing the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) and parasympathetic (rest-and-relax) branches of the nervous system major action that can really improve our wellbeing.
Nadi Shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, has a long history in Ayurvedic medicine and yoga, where it’s thought to harmonize the two hemispheres of the brain, resulting in a balanced in physical, mental and emotional well-being.
The meaning of Nadi Shodhana:
nadi = subtle energy channel
shodhan = cleaning, purification
pranayama = breathing technique
1 Sit comfortably with your spine erect and just relax your who;e body. Keep a gentle attitude.
2 Place your left hand on the left knee, palms open facing up to the sky like you are receiving a divine gift.
3 Place the tip of the index finger and middle finger of the right hand in between the eyebrows ether touching this place or just loose, place the ring finger or little finger on the left nostril gently the idea here is just to press enough to stop oxygen coming from the left side in, and place your thumb on the right nostril. We will use the ring or the little fingers to open or close the left nostril and thumb for the right nostril.
4 Press gently your thumb down on the right nostril and breathe out gently through the left nostril completely.
5 Now breathe in from the left nostril make sure you are breathing from your belly and then press the left nostril gently with the ring finger or little finger. Removing the right thumb from the right nostril, breathe out slowly from the right nostril.
6 Now breathe in from the right nostril and exhale from the left. You have now completed one round of Nadi Shodhan pranayama. Continue inhaling and exhaling from alternate nostrils nice and slowly.
7 Complete nine such rounds by alternately breathing through both the nostrils. After every exhalation, remember to breathe in from the same nostril from which you exhaled. Keep your eyes closed throughout and continue taking long, deep, smooth breaths without any force or effort.
Nadi Shodhan pranayama helps relax the mind and prepares it to enter a meditative state, get out of anxiety, prepare you for a great night of sleep and in general creates a balance in your whole being. So, it is a good idea to use it before you enter meditation after doing Nadi Shodhan.
Benefits of Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhan Pranayama)
Excellent breathing technique to calm and center the mind.
Our mind has a tendency to keep regretting or glorifying the past and getting anxious about the future or just even addressing daily life. Nadi Shodhan pranayama helps to bring the mind back to the present moment the NOW.
Releases accumulated stress in the mind and body effectively and helps with deep relaxation.
Helps harmonize the left and right hemispheres of the brain, which correlate to the logical and emotional sides of our personality by that we create balance among the two emispheres.
Helps purify and balance the nadis, the subtle energy channels of our body, thereby ensuring smooth flow of prana (life force) through the body.
It profoundly helps to settle, cool, calm and nourish an agitated mind and wired nervous system. Even after only two minutes you can feel and notice a distinct difference as to how you feel.
It regulates body temperature.
Just remember not force the breathing, and keep the flow gentle and natural. Is best to remember not breathe from the mouth or make any sound while breathing.
Place the fingers very lightly on the forehead and nose. There is no need to apply any pressure.
In case you feel dull and are yawning after practicing Nadi Shodhan pranayama, check the time you take to inhale and exhale. Your exhalation should be longer than inhalation but still gentle and smooth.
Breathing in through your left nostril will access the right “feeling” hemisphere of your brain, and breathing in through your right nostril, will access the left “thinking” hemisphere of your brain. Consciously alternating your breath between either nostril will allow you to activate and access your whole brain.
If you can’t sleep at night just gently lay on your right side, gently close your right nostril with your right thumb and breath through your left nostril for as long as it takes until you feel really relaxed, you will know that place. This way of breathing will activate your parasympathetic nervous system which will calm you down to a state of restful sleep. Left nostril breathing is cooling, calming and nourishing for your whole being.
You have effectively switched your nervous system from a stressed response, into a relaxation response.
The left nostril is feminine side, nurturing, calming, receiving and cooling. Right nostril is masculine, heat, competitive, doing, active and force. Favoring one nostril more than the other can effect the heat or coolness of your body, great to remember the left nostril breathing for hot flashes.
Do not hold your breath if you have high blood pressure or concerned with health . More advanced methods of pranayama (alternate nostril breathing) need to be practiced with an experienced practitioner. practicing on an empty stomach is preferred when in doubt consult your health practitioner.
This breathing exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.
• Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
• Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
• Hold your breath for a count of seven.
• Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count ofeight.
• This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.
This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilizing drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it but gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.
Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens – before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it.