Yoga Breathing Exercises – Pranayama
Yoga breathing exercises, also known as pranayama, are an important part of a developing yoga practice. Pranayama is one of the Eight Limbs of Yoga referenced by The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which means that it was considered an important step in human development. In addition to supporting and deepening your yoga asana practice, learning ways to calm or invigorate the body through breathing will greatly benefit all aspects of your life. Our lives are moving at such a fast pace and with such emphases on social media, we simply need to learn to slow down and we need to start breathing again! If you’re feeling stressed, the advice to “take a deep breath” is as cliché as it comes. But even if you know that slowing your respiratory roll really can calm you down and make you feel rested and relaxed, few people know how this process actually works.
Breathing is part of the autonomic nervous system, which is comprised of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. In general, the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for governing our responses to stimuli, deciding whether they are threatening, and tripping the signals that tell the body how to react. This is sometimes described as “fight or flight” responses. I am sure that you have all heard the story about the cave man going out to hunt for game. He gets a little excited when he sees a deer, kills the deer and goes back to his family. While he was hunting or in the presence of real danger, his breath would have become fast and rapid. At this stage his sympathetic nervous system would have switched on. After, on his journey home, the parasympathetic nervous system helped the body to calm back down after the danger or stressor has passed. Yoga breathing exercises have a knock on effect on the body and mind and when learned correctly will help to calm you even in the most difficult situations.
There are thousands of yoga breathing exercises but it is important to start with breath awareness focusing on the inhalation and the exhalation in and out through the nose. This simple technique will occupy your mind and will give you something to focus on .Paying attention to the breath is also a meditation technique that can be used on or off the mat, as it has the effect of keeping us constantly in the present moment. The past and the future melt away when the mind becomes fully focused on breathing.
Over the next few weeks I hoping to post interesting blogs related to yoga breathing and the wonderful benefits of breath awareness but in the meantime, feel free to join my classes in UL Sport Arena Limerick or Limerick Strand Hotel and until next time, take care and watch this spot for my new program called “Breathe For Speed”
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