The healing simplicity of Pranayama, the Yogic art of breathing
In simple terms, Pranayama refers to conscious breathing –– to the sophisticated art of realising that we are breathing and how we are breathing. Nowadays, with the world’s frenetic movement it is essential that this technique expands as much as possible throughout the world. Breathing deeply is the best medicine we have to relax and heal, and it works for everyone.
“When you bring air down into the lower portion of the lungs, where oxygen exchange is most efficient, everything changes. Heart rate slows, blood pressure decreases, muscles relax, anxiety ceases and the mind calms.” Explains James Gordon, psychiatric clinical professor and writer.
We all know how to breathe, but we don’t know how to do it correctly. Few Western people (except for some musicians and athletes) realise that the abdomen must expand when they take air in. Yoguini Eliza Bishop explains that baby breathing is Pranayama: they breathe with their belly, slowly and deeply, and with this they regulate their entire body’s pressure.
With age, most people shift from this healthy abdominal breathing to shallow, unhealthy chest breathing. This ruins the lungs, which must move faster to ensure adequate oxygen flow and taxes the heart, as it is forced to speed up to provide enough blood to transport oxygen. The result is a vicious cycle, where stress prompts shallow breathing, which in turn generates additional stress.
Pranayama, aside from regulating blood velocities, leads to the ability to control our emotions ––Something that often escapes our grasp. But by being at ease, properly oxygenated and ‘in’ our bodies we become able to control our emotions so that they will not seize our attention or waste our energy away. Just breathing correctly –– as the supreme form of meditation –– is the best tool we have against depression, chronic fatigue and anxiety, all overly common nowadays. One could say that this technique is a sort of self-hypnosis –– one in which we give the body back its air to lead life in the best possible way.
Observation always influences the rhythm and the deepness of breathing. We just have to do it.
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