We can live for weeks without food and days without water, but only a few minutes without oxygen. Our life itself is measured from our first breath to our last. Still, most of us don’t give breathing a passing thought except when we have a head cold or visit that friend who lives in a fifth-floor walk up.
In yoga, we learn that the breath is the bridge from body to mind, from outer concerns to inner peace. Yoga is like a four-legged stool – postures, breathing, relaxation and meditation and each “leg” is of equal value. Breathing is used during asanas to assist in reaching our personal best (usually, inhalation accompanies an upward – or backward -bending movement, exhalation a downward – or forward bending move). Pranayama is also an important practice in its own right. Pranayama brings under your control the normally automatic function of breathing in order to regulate the flow of prana, or life energy, throughtout your system.
With the exception of trained singers, elite athletes, and yogis, most people are shallow breathers who seldom completely fill their lungs with air or fully exhale stale air and start fresh. Learning pranayama can help you use your lungs full capacity for breath. The result is greater vitality, clearer eyes, skin, and a better functioning respiratory system. (This may be the reason many people who take up yoga say they get fewer colds than they did before.)
Some basics of pranayama are:
Sit cross-legged on the floor or on a cushion. As an alternative, you can kneel or sit in an accomodating chair. In any case, avoid rigidity, but keep your back straight enough that your Continue reading “Best Breathing Practices!” »