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Pranayama is one of the most important and integral parts of a yoga practice. Without the breath or prana, we would not be able to supply the body and its organs with oxygen. In Sanskrit, prana means “life force” or “vital energy” and ayama means “to extend or draw out.” In Pranayama, we learn how to control and extend our breath to live longer and happier lives.
Through proper breathing techniques we can increase energy levels in the body and eliminate toxins. Through breathing exercises you can release stress, anxiety and depression.
Here, I will explain various techniques that are completely safe and useful for beginners to practice:
It is important to always start in a comfortable sitting position with the spine straight. Try to find a quiet environment to sit in. Notice the way your chest rises and falls as you inhale and exhale through the nose. Try to focus on the nature of each inhalation and exhalation. This technique will bring your mind into a calm and peaceful state.
Surya/Chandra Bedhi: This is also known as the “Sun” and “Moon” breath. Our left nostril is associated with the sun or masculine side, which is active and creates heat. The right nostril is connected to the feminine side, which is cooling and calming. The purpose of these two breaths is to create a balance throughout the body. Doing Chandra Bedhi before bed can help you fall asleep more easily, as it is connected to the parasympathetic nervous system.
For Surya Bedhi, gently close your left nostril and inhale through the right. Then, close the right nostril and exhale through the left. Repeat this for 1 to 3 minutes.
For Chandra Bedhi, close your right nostril, inhaling through the left and exhale through the right. Continue for 1 to 3 minutes.
Ujjayi breath: Ujjayi means “victorious breath” and is also commonly referred to as the “oceanic” breath because of the oceanic sound that is made when gently constricting your throat. This breath helps to regulate heat in your body. To practice it, keep your mouth closed and begin to breathe in and out through your nose. Take a deep inhalation through your nose, and exhale slowly through the nose as you constrict the muscles in the back of your throat.
Bhramari, or Humming Bee Breath:
Start by sitting in a comfortable position, with your back and spine straight and arms relaxed. Plug both ears with your index fingers. Take a deep inhalation and exhale through the nose while making a humming sound. You can do this for 10 rounds or until you feel tired. This breath send a soothing vibration throughout your entire body. It relaxes and create a positive effect on your nervous system. It also helps to normalize blood pressure and reduce anger.
Do not practice if you have an ear infection or any medical problems.
Pranayama should always be practiced on empty stomach or at least three hours after eating. It is important to practice somewhere clean with plenty of fresh air. You can practice at any time during the day, to energize your body and balance the left and right sides of the body. If you are on your period, you can still practices these techniques, but breathing more gently and taking a rest whenever you feel tired.
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