"When the Breath wanders, the mind is unsteady, but when the Breath is still, so is the mind still."
- Hatha Yoga Pradipika
The sanskrit term prana means vital energy and pranayama means“extension of the breath”, or better said “breath control”. Already thousands of years ago yogis understood the importanceand benefits of the correct breathing and developed several breathing techniques to revitalize the mind and the body and to increase the life span.
Did you know that the animals which breathe slowly live the longest? Like an elephant. The same applies to humans - we need to breathe more slowly and as deeply as possible. Breathing seems as such a simple and natural thing, and maybe because of that we often totally forget about it. Everyone knows how to breath, but when you stop and think of it, you probably catch yourself breathing totally superficially and incorrectly. There are many outside factors, which can modify and restrict our breathing, not only momentarily but also habitually. We can develop unhealthy habits and not be aware of it.
The key here is to breathe through the nose. That is because a screen of hairs traps dust, tiny insects and other particles that may injure the lungs. When you breath through the mouth there is no diffusor and you allow many unwanted elements to enter into your body.
And why is this pranayama so important for us? First of all, it is actually the only means that supplies the brain and the whole body and its organs with oxygen, which is vital for our health. It is also a way to get rid of waste and toxins from our bodies. And correct breathing can help the prevention of major diseases and cure minor illnesses.
Breathing is one of the basic elements of yoga. It has a vital role in our asana and meditation practices. Pranayama helps us to concentrate and where there is concentration of the mind, the breathing becomes very slow or it can even be suspended for a moment, which is called a neutral phase. The union of pranayama and asana is considered as the highest form of purification and self-discipline, covering both mind and body.
For the best results, proper breathing techniques need to be practiced habitually and with care, in the beginning preferably under the guidance of a teacher. Especially people with low or high blood pressure should find out first what kind of pranayama is adequate for them.
As said, there are many different pranayama practices and methods, of which we´ll speak more later. Usually you observe your breath, focus on a single point such as the third eye or one of the chakras and you count…
So-Ham… Never forget to breath!