“The mind is the king of the senses, but the breath is the king of the mind”-Hatha Yoga Pradipaka
From the very first time we step on earth to the last minute of our life, we take about half a billion breaths without even realising it. Breathing is essential to living and to be able to do that consciously helps us in restoring mind and body balance in our body. Being aware and in control of our breathing helps us in calming down during stressful situations as well.
Pranayama is the practise of breath regulation, an exercise for physical and mental well-being. In Sanskrit, the word “Prana” means life energy and “Yama” means control, meaning controlling our life energy. Pranayama includes breathing exercises and patterns, you hold your breath in a specific sequence and inhale and exhale purposefully. Pranayama is used in combination with asanas and dhyaana.
Pranayama supplies oxygen to your body while removing toxins which provide healing physiological benefits. There are different healing techniques involved in Pranayama. A few of them are- Nadishodhana (alternate nostril breathing), Ujjayi (victorious breath), Bhramari (female honey bee humming breath), Bastrika (bellows breath). The breathing exercises can be performed along with any yoga poses or while meditating.
Pranayama has many healthy benefits, a few of them are:
- Improval in Lung Functioning: The inhale and exhale breathing exercise increases the expansion of space between the chest wall and expiratory lung. Practicing kapalabhati helps in clearing mucus in the air passages, relieves congestion, reduces any bloating and improves the lung capacity in your body.
- Decreases Stress Levels: When you are stressed, your body releases adrenaline and cortisol which makes your breathing irregular and restless. When simple yoga asanas calm down the adrenaline, you need to practice breathing exercises, which will help you return to your regular breathing.
- Your Quality of Sleep Improves: When you practise Bhramari Pranayama, your rate of breathing and heart rate will calm down, which will result in giving you a peaceful sleep. The exercise is very much helpful for people suffering with sleep apnea.
- Increases Mindfulness: Mindfulness is all about being aware of yourself and your surroundings. When you are aware of your breathing with pranayama exercises, you start becoming more aware of your bodily actions and increases your attention span, physiological and psychological health.
- Reduces Health Complications: Health complications like heart diseases, diabetes, lung infections, sleep patterns, anxiety and other such health complications.
Performing breathing exercises will only take 2-5 minutes of your time in a day. But, the health benefits of these exercises live with you for the rest of your life, while making you create a healthy living.