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Breathwork - Pranayama

Updated: Feb 5

(Prana=life force or breath) + (Yama=control) = breath control


Pranayama is the practice of breath control. It goes beyond the body’s natural ability to breath and one’s breathing pattern. You control the timing, duration, and frequency of every breath in and out.


In yogic beliefs, the breath is the bridge between body and mind and it is understood that one can control the power of the mind through controlled and regulated breath (and detoxify the body). Pranayama compliments the practice of both yoga and meditation, allowing one to find the calm and stillness within. Although pranayama breathing techniques are heavily based on ancient spiritual and metaphysical practices (Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: The 8 Limbs of Yoga, pranayama being the 4th limb), studies have proven to shown that the regular practice of pranayama has a positive impact on our overall mental and physical well-being. Some examples are as follows:


·      decrease stress

·      emotional regulation

·      lowers anxiety and negative feelings associated

·      improves sleep quality

·      reduces high blood pressure

·      strengthens and improves lung function

·      promotes mindfulness and relaxation

·      enhances overall cognitive performance

·      improves auditory and sensory motor skills



The Science Behind the Breathwork


Research has shown that pranayama can help to regulate the autonomic nervous system, leading to better cardiovascular and respiratory health. Pranayama has been found to increasing the production of nitric oxide, a molecule which relaxes and widens blood vessels allowing better blood flow and oxygen to the body’s tissues and organs. By increasing nitric oxide in the body, one’s overall vascular health can be improved while reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. For more in-depth information behind the science, see related articles below:



There are 8 primary pranayama techniques, but if you dive deep into the research of it, you will find many more. Most techniques have 3 parts, each consisting of the following:


·       Purak (inhalation through nostrils)

·       Kumbhak (retention)

·       Rechak (exhalation)


8 Pranayama Techniques

·      Breath of Fire ‘Kapalabhati Pranayama’

·      Bellows Breath ‘Bhastrika Pranayama’

·      Against the Wave ‘Viloma Pranayama’

·      Alternate Nostril Breathing ‘Nadi Sodhana’

·      Humming Bee Breath ‘Bhramari Pranayama’

·      Three Part Breath ‘Dirga Pranayama’

·      Ocean Breath ‘Ujjayi Pranayama’

·      Cooling Breath ‘Shitali Pranayama’



Like anything else, its important to consider one’s overall health before practicing just any pranayama technique. Certain breathing techniques should be avoided depending on what health ailment one is facing. Those suffering from hypertension (AKA: high blood pressure) or coronary artery disease should consult their physician beforehand to ensure deep breathing is safe and that any prescribed medicines are not conflicting with one’s desire to practice a pranayama. Simple and easy techniques, like alternate nostril breathing is soft and safe and overall easy and great way to calm the body and the mind.


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Love and Light,


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