The breath is the most vital process of the body. It influences the activities of each and every cell and, most importantly, is intimately linked with the performance of the brain. Human beings breathe about 15 times per minute and 21,600 times per day. Respiration fuels the burning of oxygen and glucose, producing energy to power every muscular contraction, glandular secretion and mental process.
Most people breathe incorrectly, using only a small part of their lung capacity. The breathing is then generally shallow, depriving the body of oxygen and prana essential to it’s good health. Irregular breathing disrupts the rhythms of the brain and leads to physical, emotional and mental blocks.
Pranamaya establishes regular breathing patterns giving us control of the breath and re-establishing the natural, relaxed rhythms of the body and mind.
The practice given below is a preparatory technique which introduces correct breathing habits, which help focus the awareness on the breathing process, which is otherwise normally ignored. Only once this technique is mastered, can you then explore all the other pranayama techniques. Note that inhalation and exhalation should always be done through the nose, unless indicated otherwise.
Abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing is practised by enhancing the action of the diaphragm and minimizing the action of the ribcage. Abdominal breathing is the most natural and efficient way to breath. Once this technique becomes part of your daily life and correct breathing is restored, there will be great improvement in the state of physical and mental wellbeing.
Lie on your back in savasana. You can use a pillow under your knees to support your legs.
Place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your abdomen. This will allow you to feel your diaphragm move as you breathe.
Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible.
Let your abdomen fall inward as you exhale. As much as possible avoid using muscular effort.
Practice this exercise 5-10 minutes about 3-4 times per day.
When you first learn the diaphragmatic breathing technique, it may be easier for you to follow the instructions lying down. As you gain more practice, you can try the abdominal breathing technique in a sitting position
Strengthen the diaphragm
Decrease the work of breathing by slowing your breathing rate
Decrease oxygen demand
Use less effort and energy to breathe
Increases state of physical and mental wellbeing
Re-establishes the natural, relaxed rhythms of the body and mind
There are no contraindications for this technique. It can be done anywhere, anytime and by anyone.
All other Pranayama techniques need to be done with the guidance of a certified yoga teacher.