May the Life Force be with You
Pranayama is a mindful and effortless practice of bringing awareness to the breath and using it to enhance
our physical , emotional and spiritual well being
The word pranayama derives from the Sanskrit words prana and ayama. Prana is the vital life force that flows through all living beings. It is the cosmic intelligence within every cell of the body. The word ayama means “to expand” or “draw out.” While practicing pranayama, we use our breath as a tool to expand our life-force energy and improve the communication between all parts of our mind-body system.
Mind, body and breath are inextricably connected. Our breathing is affected by our thoughts, and our thoughts and physiology are influenced by our breath. For example, when our mind sees danger and engages in fearful thoughts, our sympathetic nervous system triggers our “fight-or-flight” response. Our breathing becomes rapid and shallow and constricted in the chest, our body releases a surge of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, increasing our blood pressure and heart rate. On the other hand, when our mind is calm, our breathing is deep and rhythmic, leading the body to its natural state of self-repair, engaging all self-healing mechanisms. In this state, our parasympathetic nervous system becomes dominant, triggering the “rest and digest” response.
Practicing pranayama helps us cultivate a joyful, energetic body and a restful, alert mind. A number of scientific studies have researched and shown the benefits of regular practice of pranayama. Some of the benefits are:
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Lowered blood pressure
- Increased energy
- Relaxed muscles
- Better sleep
There are different controlled deep breathing techniques – Ujjayi – Ocean breath, Nadi Shodhana – alternate nostril breathing, Bhastrika – Energizing breath. We will discuss these types of Pranayama in more details later on this page.
Daily practice of pranayama, along with yoga and meditation, helps reverse the physical stress response in the body, helps to calm and slow down the emotional turbulence in the mind. Deep breathing can have an immediate effect on diffusing emotional energy so we become less reactive and more responsive when life happens.
May you breath flow as effortlessly as the ocean waves and the Sumer breeze.
May the life force be with you