Pranayama is the word for breathing practices in Yoga.
Prana is the vital life force that circulates around our body and Yama means to regulate or control this energy.
Some pranayama exercises aim to cleanse the body and some balance and calm the mind. It is said that postures in Yoga are to keep the body relaxed and calm, whilst the breath calms and relaxes the mind.
Pranyama is incorporated into classes, retreats and is also available in a private individual or group session.
“The mind is the king of the senses but the breath is the king of the mind” (Hatha Yoga Pradipika)
Pranayama, the formal practice of controlling the breath, lies at the heart of yoga. It has a mysterious power to soothe and revitalize a tired body, a flagging spirit, or to calm a busy and anxious mind. The ancient sages taught that prana, the vital force circulating through us (through energetic channels in the body called Nadis), can be cultivated and channeled through specific breathing exercises. Sometimes Bandhas or energetic and physical ‘locks’ are also used during the practice. The mind is then calmed, rejuvenated, and uplifted. Pranayama serves as an important bridge between the outward, active practices of yoga postures and the internal, surrendering practices that lead us into deeper states of meditation.
Alternate Nostril Breath – Anuloma Viloma
Benefits: Inhaling and exhaling using a special technique of closing and opening air from the nose, this balances the energy of the nervous system, has a profound effect on the mind.
Breath of Fire – Kapalabhati
Benefits: Sitting comfortably, air is exhaled through the nose by forceful expulsion from the abdomen. Purifies and aerates the entire system. Recharges and warms the body. Increases oxygen, improves concentration.
Sounding Breath – Ujjayi
Benefits: Breathing slowly through the nose with a slight contraction in the throat this creates a sound in the inner ear, similar to the sound of the ocean. This is calming for the body and balancing the nervous system. Expels stale air from the lungs, purifying the respiratory system. Slows the mind, calms the emotions.
Benefits: This technique is very effective for steadying the breath and subsequently calming the mind. It calls for pausing briefly at the end of each inhalation and each exhalation. Here you breathe normally until breath is steady and rhythmic, pausing after the in-breath and again after the out-breath, the slow increase in the length of the pauses causes a higher flow of energy in the body.