Pranayama Breathing ExercisesInspire | Harmonize | Enliven
What is Pranayama?
- Practiced at your own pace
- Seamlessly tied into the practice of yoga
- Focuses on mindful breathing
Pranayama is the practice of breathing techniques used during yoga, not just when performing asanas, or poses, but also before and after.
In Sanskrit, Prana means “life force” and Ayama means “to extend or draw out.” Literally, the terms refers to breath control or the extension of Prana. There are many different Pranayama techniques, each designed to help focus the mind on the breath, clear channels of energy and give one a sense of renewal.
More about Pranayama
Focusing on the breath can be deeply calming, but it can also be really energizing and recharging. Certain Pranayama techniques have different effects, such as Nadi Shodhana, or Alternate Nostril Breathing. This practice helps clear the right and left “Nadis” or channels of energy, bringing one into better balance. In Sanskrit, Nadi means “channel” or “flow”, where Shodhana means “purification.”
During a Yoga class, Pranayama is taught with special importance placed on the exhalation. Not only does the exhalation activate to the “rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous system, it also helps us create power in movement. Take for example body builders who deadlift significant weight. They exhale deeply and sharply when lifting the weight up over their heads from a squatted position. This can also be the case in yoga, when moving into a pose that requires strength such as transitioning from Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) into high lunge (Anjaneyasana). It is easier to transition between these two poses on the exhalation versus the inhalation.
In addition to helping the practitioner move with strength and power, the exhalation can also be calming, helping to expunge unwanted energy, tension and stress. When practicing a 1:2 breath where the exhale is twice as long as the inhale, the “rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous system is engaged. Experienced practitioners use this pranayama technique to engage a sense of calm, quiet the mind and helps to reduce insomnia.
Breathe, move and live – better.
If you are interested in learning more or practicing Pranayama with an expert teacher, I would love to help you. I’m looking forward to helping you breathe, move and live – better.
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Vancouver, WA 98684
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Yoga Mojo & Movement Therapy is conveniently located off I-205 and Mill Plain and serves all of the Clark County, Washington area including Vancouver, Washougal, Camas, Felida, Salmon Creek, Ridgefield, Battle Ground, Hockinson and La Center.The second exit after the NB I-205 bridge, Yoga Mojo is also quick and easy to get to from Portland, Oregon.