The practice of Pranayama dates back to ancient India and the origins of yoga. The Sanskrit word Pranayama can be broken down into Prana, which is often known as life or energy, and Ayama, which means to extend or draw out. Pranayama practice is therefore the invitation to move and flow energy throughout our body using our breath. This is how we orientate to health. When our breath is restricted or shallow, it may inhibit the flow of prana or life force, thereby creating physical or emotional blocks in our systems. We may begin to feel “unwell”, stuck or unmotivated. We may also feel dissociated and our minds feel unclear or foggy.
With that, wherever you are – Stop, right now and notice how you are breathing.
Where the breath is moving to?
Is your breath fluid, easy flowing, long, deep?
Is your breath high in the body, shallow, restricted?
So often we don’t even notice that we have started breathing in a shallow and stifled way. It can be very unconscious. Each emotional state we move into can have a corresponding pattern of breathing associated with it. When we start to create breathing patterns which don’t support our nervous system and day-to-day life we begin to restrict the flow of energy and lifeforce through the body.
Pranayama is coordinated, conscious breathing and provides a doorway to regulating our entire being and shifting the way we feel. Regulated breathing can help stabilise our energy and control our moods. Improving our breathing patterns can have a profound affect on the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS controls physical processes such as digestion, respiration, heart rate, immune function and excretion. How amazing is that!
For me personally, what I love about pranayama, is the glimpse I receive into the quiet and more subtle aspects of my practice and how the breathing invites me into meditation more easily. If you’re interested to learn more, I have a Full Meditation Course Available on Urban Yogis Online Academy. The meditations are inspired by ancient Pranayama practices that can be easily integrated into your everyday life.
About the Author
Tess Hynes is based in Australia yet has taught in various locations around the world. She is a teacher on Urban Yogis Online Academy with her deepest passions in Yin Yoga, Pranayama and Meditation. She believes in building tools to cultivate self awareness and shift energies in the physical, emotional and mental realms.