Some of us take breathing for granted. Maybe because it’s a very simple act, and we think it happens beyond our control anyways etc. Luckily, more and more people are waking up to the amazing benefits of breathing correctly. Back in the day, we had to visit a wise guru to learn about the secrets of rejuvenating breathing. But now, we are very fortunate to have lots of digital resources to help us on our quest to living better and healthier lives.
I bet you all have noticed that when you and your mind are calm, your breath is calm, centered and balanced as well. And whenever you feel stressed or nervous, your breathing goes haywire as well. That simple fact is enough to show us that how we breathe has a powerful effect on our emotional states. This is where the ancient Indian teachings on pranayama come to our rescue.
Pranayama is a Sanskrit word. Prana means life force or breath and yama means control. In pranayama, specific rhythms and techniques are used while attending to our breath. Certain types of pranayama may have a calming effect on the body whereas others may energize.
One type of energizing pranayama is called Ujjayi breathing. This is the type of breathing I was taught when I was studying to get my Yoga Teacher Training course in Italy. It’s mainly used during Ashtanga yoga practice. In Sanskrit, the word Ujjayi means victorious. Ujjayi is believed to increase oxygenation in the body and build internal heat. In the YouTube video below, Adriene explains beautifully how to practice Ujjayi:
Another well-known pranayama is Alternate Nostril Breathing. This type of breathing is recommended for calming the mind, alleviating stress and anxiety. It’s also believed to balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain. To demonstrate this breathing, I will share again how Adriene teaches the technique:
As you move throughout your day, ask yourself how you can incorporate the above-mentioned breathing techniques into your daily routine even for a couple of minutes a day. Breathing is such a powerful medicine we carry with us every day. Remember to use it wisely!