When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace. ~Author Unknown
Breathing is a natural physiological process; we take in oxygen (nourishment and good energy) and we expel carbon dioxide (cleansing). Improving how we breathe can improve the quality and length of our lives. Pranayama (or the practice of breath control and extension) allows us to observe and revisit our breathing habits to increase our life force or prana.
When we bring awareness to the breath through the weaving of the inhalations and exhalations, we can begin to focus the mind and the mind becomes the observer of the body breathing. The physiological process of breathing as it is brought to one’s consciousness is a potent energy practice. It’s a practice in your pocket that you can call on anytime of the day at any moment you begin to feel stressed or when you need to calm down. The breath practice allows us to regenerate energy and cleanse naturally; to slow down time; to respond and not to react so you can choose the path of least harm (ahimsa).
To begin a breath practice, begin with a simple breath extension exercise that you can practice anytime of the day when you need it. Start the day with a 5-10 minute breath practice shortly after you wake up each day.
Here’s how to get started: Find a comfortable and quiet place to be seated where you can breathe clean air deeply. For this podcast (see below), it would be best to be seated on a chair and also have the option of using your headphones.
To learn more about the breath, use your imagination as the key to possibilities. Use visual images to improve your understanding of the breath and develop more breathing techniques. Here are some of the amazing resources online to developing a pranayama practice.
Maricar Pastrana-Holopainen is a Founding Teacher at Urban Ashram Manila – Center for Yoga. She incorporates the practice of Pranayama in all her classes, posture clinics and introduction to yoga workshops.