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What is Pranayama and Why Do We Practice? /Basic Pranayama Series 1

balance breathwork calm pranayama stress reductioon subtle body vagus nerve yoga May 07, 2021

Pranayama is a fundamental part of Yoga practice. It is often translated as breathwork in the west, but it is far more potent than that.  

Yogis have been practicing Pranayama for thousands of years. Modern science is catching up to understand the tremendous benefits of Pranayama both for our mind and body.   Take a deep breath in and out. See how you are feeling right now.  Just by a simple deep belly breath, you can feel immediate shifts in your mind, body, and energy level. 

Yogis have also understood the benefits far beyond the physiological level.   We can use our breaths as the doorway to Prana and a deeper dimension of our practice and our being.

As I mentioned in the last blog, Prana means life force/ vital energy, Yama means tuning.  One of my teachers Anand Ji (Sattve Yoga Academy) explains Pranayama as: 

"... the art, the practice, and the state where our understanding is in tune, aligned, with the natural law. " 

What are the benefits of Pranayama?

Each Pranayama has different effects.  The followings are some of the notable benefits from various techniques.  

  • Develop self-awareness.
  • Increase lung capacity and improve cardiovascular health.
  • Increases our body's ability to adapt to physical and emotional stress by eliciting the relaxation response (Reduces the arousal level of the sympathetic nervous system)
  • Activates the vagus nerve
  • Increases tone of the vagus nerve during exhalation
  • Oxygenate the mitochondria that improve immune cell regulation and enhances the function of the immune system
  • Regulates CO2 pressure
  • Balances alkalinity in the body
  • Improves HRV (Heart Rate Variability)
  • Engages the pre-frontal cortex
  • Promotes positive brain chemistry and deep states of transcendence in meditation.
  • Enhances our access to "Shunya" (a state of deep silence) both in and out of meditation.
  • Stabilizes higher states of consciousness.

There are more benefits.

Enjoin this Basic Pranayama Series in this blog which contains several different kind of techniques and experience some of the effects for yourself.

Let me know how you feel after you practice the basic pranayama series.

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