Pranayama is the controlling of breath to achieve specific results in the energetic body.
In Sanskrit, it can be translated as “life force,” which is why it is such a vital piece of a yogi’s practice. Without pranayama, yoga can feel more like a standard exercise regime.
Many yoga postures and flows become just another form of expertise without the breath and often why yoga is mistaken as nothing but stretching.
However, any practiced yogi will tell you that once you step into your own pranayama—breathwork—practice as you are flowing in yoga, your practice begins to transform as much as you do.
Yoga is known for its healing benefits. But what many misses in yoga is the combination of the movement with the breath. This is why someone doing yoga poses in another type of exercise regime may not have the same benefits if you practice a traditional yoga flow that includes the marrying of the breath to movement.
Something profound happens when you begin to marry the breath to your movement. We often live in our minds in this era of human history. We are forward-thinking, informational heavy, but our bodies have been sorely forgotten and often neglected at the expense of our mental health.
Movement Is Important
If we continue to move through life without including our bodies into our movement, we can become disintegrated. The practice of pranayama is an awareness of our breath, something we cannot live without
It’s for this reason that scientists have recently been studying yoga and its transformational results. When you add more breath into your lungs, it stimulates your vagus nerve, which can help take your system out of “fight or flight” mode into a parasympathetic system of relaxation.
Can Pranayama Healing You?
Only in pranayama can you find this fascinating combination of movement and breath. Not only that, pranayama’s work has been proven to decrease stress, improve sleep, reduce high blood pressure, improve lung function, and increases brain function. You can find case studies on how it can improve lung function and high blood pressure.
Pranayama’s work helps to decrease stress by moving our body into a more relaxed state, which is what our body also needs to get to sleep every night.
When we engaged in constantly stressful activities, even as simple as a dramatic TV show or a heated conversation on social media, our body’s response system that was built to protect us from primal threats turns on. In our day and age, this system is triggered very regularly throughout our days. So much so that most people don’t know how to truly relax or not being a state of fight or flight. When someone steps into the breathwork of yoga, it can be a profound shift like no other.
Pranayama’s Spiritual Benefits
Taking your body out of fight or flight, pranayama can lead to a more attuned sense of spiritual connection. When our bodies are in flight or flight, like they are so often in the present age of constantly refreshing social media and hour-long news cycles, we can be in a nonstop state of survival mode. Conversely, when our bodies are tapped into our parasympathetic system, we can heal. We can experience deep, meaningful transformation; spiritual transformation.
For anyone who has practiced meditation, the breathwork can be similar. Pranayama is an essential part of calming your body down to stay focused and tap into your soul in a way that can be quite hard if we’re living out of survival mode.
Will you give pranayama a try? It’s as simple as a breath in and a breath out.