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- An Introduction To A Yoga Breathing Exercise

Pranayama, or yoga breathing exercise, has been widely referred to as the 'science of breath control'.

It comprises exercises designed to keep the body in a vibrant, healthy condition. This article will provide a brief introduction to Pranayama, address its' many advantages and give examples of beginner yoga breathing exercise practices.

What Is Pranayama?

The term Pranayama literally means "breath control". Pranayama yoga breathing exercise practices specifically help practitioners prepare themselves for meditation. Pranayama consists of 4 stages:

  1. Arambha - commencement and awakening of one's interest in Pranayama
  2. Ghata - where the three sariras (gross, subtle and causal) surround the soul
  3. Parichay - experience of the knowledge of Pranayama
  4. Nispatti - going beyond the physical body to unite with the supreme.

What Are The Benefits Of Pranayama?

The benefits of Pranayama are numerous. By focusing on and perfecting something that is essentially an automatic process, you can benefit your health enormously.

  • Pranayama teaches the "proper" way to breathe. Instead of breathing from our chest and under-using our lungs, you can increase the capacity of your lungs by breathing slowly and deeply.
  • Pranayama helps reduce the toxins and wastes that accumulate within your body, and may act as a preventative for illness.
  • Pranayama is helpful for digestion; learning to breathe properly helps improve metabolism.
  • The concentration and focus required to effectively practice yoga breathing exercise methods helps improve self-control and willpower.
  • Pranayama repels stress and allows the body to relax.
  • When the body is relaxed and the mind is focused, yoga breathing exercise methods allow for a more fulfilling spiritual journey.

Two Beginner Pranayama Exercises

Kapalabhati (Cleansing Breath)

pranayama exercises- specifically designed to clear mucus from the air passages

  1. Take two normal breaths
  2. Inhale, then exhale, pulling in your abdomen.
  3. Repeat twenty times, keeping a constant rhythm with emphasis on the exhalation.
  4. Inhale, exhale fully, inhale fully and hold your breath for as long as possible.
  5. Slowly exhale.

Anuloma Viloma

(alternate nostril breathing), which equalizes the flow of Prana in the body.

  1. Adopt the Vishnu Mudra with your right hand, tucking your index and middle fingers into your nostrils. Your thumb and other fingers should be placed either side of your nostrils.
  2. Inhale through the left nostril, holding the right one closed with your thumb; count to four.
  3. Close both nostrils and hold your breath; count to 16.
  4. Breathe out through your right nostril, holding the left one closed with your ring and little fingers; count to eight.
  5. Breathe in through the right nostril, closing the left one with your fingers; count to four.
  6. Close both nostrils and hold your breath; count to 16.
  7. Breathe out through your left nostril, closing the right one with your thumb; count to eight.

There are many other yoga breathing exercise practices, from simple ones to quite advance techniques. These are best learned via practical demonstration from an instructor; attempting to perform more advanced yoga breathing exercise methods without adequate instruction can result in injury.




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