Pranayama.  Bliss.  In my humble opinion this is where the magic happens in yoga.  So what is pranayama?  Simply put, it is breathing.

Pranayama is our Life Force.  We cannot live without breathing.  When our breathing stops, our life ends.  Yet we take for granted this powerful force in our lives.

There are many emotional issues running rampant in our society, mood disorders such as depression or anxiety.  Often just learning to breathe properly (fully) can help alleviate the negative impact these feelings can have in our life.

In my personal yoga practice, I will sometimes JUST breathe.  I will lie in sivasana (relaxation) and breathe.  I will lie on my tummy and just breathe.  I will sit is a simple lotus pose and just breathe.  Or childs pose for breathing is very soothing and nuturing for the body and mind.  Reguardless of any asana I practice, I am BREATHING.  Often in classes, holding poses, our natural instinct can be to hold the breath.  This actually stresses out the body and mind, so when practicing your yoga, be sure you are breathing fully.  Practicing yoga or not, breathe fully!

TRY THIS!

A very simple exercise to practice is ‘equal breathing.’ Sit comfortably or lie down on your back, close the eyes and first allow your breathing to deepen.  After a few deep breaths, exhale completely (so you are pushing out old stale air), then begin inhaling and count it: when you have reached your full inhale begin to exhale and count it to match your inhale.  In classes I guide my students through a very slow four count (Inhale to four, exhale to four).

There are many different pranayama exercises, all that have different purposes.  There are breathing exercises to calm, energize, detoxify, and even to heat up or cool down the body!

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The science of pranayama is pretty simple.  When you breathe deeply, you are bringing fresh oxygen to the body and bloodstream.  This naturally creates detoxification and rejuvenation.  You are sloughing off old cells, you are helping create new healthy cells, you are ridding the body of old stale air, and using the full capacity of your lungs again.  Pranayama will help you feel relaxed in your body (oxygen to the muscles helps them relax, when we hold the breath our body stays rigid), and clear in your mind (when you hold your breath lack of oxygen to the brain creates foggy/static mind).

So stop taking advantage of this gift of life, and start breathing fully and completely every day, in every moment!  Sit tall, open your heart, relax your shoulders and face, and allow your breathing to expand your Life Force.

If you want to review the first three steps check out Life and Yoga, The Yamas, The Niyamas and The Asanas.

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17 thoughts on “The Fourth Step | Just Breathe

  1. Yes! – great article.

    To experience and appreciate the “life force” within our breath is the greatest source of personal peace, because living within the conscious feeling of this power will tame our crazy mind and allow us to be who we really are – our true self – in peace and love.

    The gift of breath is everything – the beginning and end of human life. This is not something to be taken for granted, but is a reason, every moment, to feel appreciation and infinite gratitude.

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