Think And Do

Pranayama - Breathwork

Pranayama: Controlled Breathing
  • Development and maintenance of a healthy, strengthened and cleansed body
  • Increase awareness
  • Improved focus
  • Enhanced ability to achieve and retain calmness
The connection between proper breathing and quality of life is both intimate and strong.
We have the ability to maintain our strength and health through awareness of our breath, yet we go through life with very little attention to the fact that we are breathing at all!
Post-Birth breathing should be practiced first. Then add Ujjai breathing.

In the practice of Pranayama, we control the flow of Prana by guiding our breath.
The word itself consists of two parts:
  • Prana – “that which is everywhere”
  • Ayama – “stretch”
Prana is breath entering the body (Yang) and apana is breath leaving the body (Yin).
In addition, apana refers to the lower abdomen and the activities occurring there. The actual breathing consists of three states:
  • Purakam - Inhalation – lungs fill
  • Kumbhakam - Restraining – here is where the exchange of gases takes place in the body
    and toxic air is replace with clean air
  • Recakam - Exhalation – removal of toxic substances
In addition to actual mechanism of the breath, there are five forms of prana, each representing a different bodily function:
  • Udana-vayu - Throat, speech
  • Prana-vayu - Chest
  • Samana-vayu - Central region, digestion
  • Apana-vayu - Lower abdomen, elimination
  • Vyana-vayu - All body regions
Consider Yin and Yang.

We seek to balance our energies through Pranayama by finding a state of equilibrium in the breaths.
Although we need the pranic energy of apana, we must still eliminate the toxic substances that accumulate within the body.

Looking at the Tai Chi, we can associate our breath directly to this image –
Prana (Yang, white) enters the body, increasing to our greatest level of comfort.
The Apana (Yin, black) begins, slowly, and under our control, leaves the body.
This continuous repetition of prana and apana balances us, regulates us, and maintains our health.
Agni – The Fire of Life

Once again, Chinese thought plays a role in the understanding of Yogic practices.
Chinese medicine defines energy regions within the body and points on the surface through which these regions can be stimulated (this is the practice of acupuncture).
The core of our bodies is the Tan-Tien, located in the region of the navel.
It is the point from which energy (Chi) flows smoothly throughout the body.

Agni is located in this region.
This flame changes direction in accordance with the flow of breath.
Inhalations drive this fire downward, and exhalations drive it upward.
In practice, we try to make the exhalations longer, thereby reducing the body’s rubbish and allow sufficient prana to enter for healing and strength.