Pranayama and Yogic Breathing
What Is the Meaning of Pranayama and Yogic Breathing?
Prana when literally translated means spirit or the breath and Yama means control. Pranayama is thus loosely translated as prana or breathe control.
Breathing is the essence of living, yet most of us don’t even notice it. It is so simple and obvious we often take it for granted. It has immense power to affect body, mind, and spirit. And it is because we neglect it that we come across so many ailments resulting from improper or shallow breathing.
Each inhalation that we take goes into the bloodstream as rich oxygen that transforms the food into body fuel and enriches the various cells in a body with oxygen. Each exhalation removes from the body toxins in the form of carbon dioxide. Since the supply of oxygen governs the functioning of body cells and organs it also affects our state of mind. It can make us excited or calm, tense or relaxed. It can make our thinking confused or clear. In the yogic terms, air is the primary source of prana or life force, a psycho-physio-spiritual force that permeates the universe.
Pranayama and Yogic Breathing is a set of breathing exercises that ancient yogis developed by various techniques to maximize the benefits of prana. Pranayama is used in yoga to help clear and cleanse the body and mind as a prelude to yogic postures. It is also used in preparation for meditation to help maximize its benefits and focus the mind.
The biggest benefit is that it promotes clear thinking, calms the mind, soothes anxiety and stress, balances left and right hemispheres of the brain.
When to do it
Pranayama and Yogic Breathing should be done before meditation and whenever you are stressed and wish to relax. You can also do it as part of your centering before beginning an asana or posture routine.