When the Breath wanders, the mind is unsteady, but when the Breath is still, so is the mind still." - Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Pranayama Yoga also goes hand in hand with the Asanas. The union of these two Yogic Principles is considered as the highest form of purification and self-discipline, covering both mind and body.
Yoga breathing, or Pranayama, is the science of breath control. It consists of series of exercises especially intended to meet the body's needs and keep it in vibrant health. Pranayama comes from the following words:
Thus, Pranayama means "breathing techniques" or "breath control". Ideally, this practice of opening up the inner life force is not merely to take healthy deep breaths. It is intended for yoga practitioners to help and prepare them in their Meditation process.
In our respiration process, we breathe in or inhale oxygen into our body, going through our body systems in a form of energy to charge our different body parts. Then we exhale carbon dioxide and take away all toxic wastes from our body. Through the practice of Pranayama, the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide is attained. Absorbing prana through breath control links our body, mind, and spirit.
But life is full of stress. Because of the daily work, family, or financial pressures, we tend to ignore our breathing. Thus, it tends to be fast and shallow. The use of only a fraction of your lungs results to lack of oxygen and may lead to different complications. Heart diseases, sleep disorders, and fatigue are some of the effects of oxygen starvation. Therefore, the negative energy of being restless and troublesome leads to lesser prana inside the body. By practicing deep and systematic breathing through Pranayama, we reenergize our body.
These are the four stages of Pranayama:
Breathing is a normal part of our life, though we fail to pay attention to it. It is an autonomic function of the body that we perform even without concentrating on it. Why then do we have to learn yoga breathing? Here are some reasons why Pranayama is important:
However, Pranayama should not be forced and done without proper preparation, or it may lead to nervous breakdowns. It is part of a process in yoga. Breath control is a spiritual practice of cleansing the mind and body which should be done appropriately and with proper guidance and preparation.