Pranayama (Breathing Techniques)

We learn about our breath through the practice of pranayama in order to cultivate and balance the energy in our bodies. Pranayama teaches us how to breathe more fully and efficiently in order to improve our health and wellbeing.

Pranayama is generally defined as 'breath control'. Although this interpretation may seem correct in view of the practices involved, it does not convey the full meaning of the term. Prana means 'vital energy' or 'life force', ayama means 'to expand', accordingly pranayama is expansion of the vital energy. This vital energy is responsible for all life experiences including physical and spiritual.

Pranayamas harmonize the pranic body which is a network of nerve channels carrying the vital force to each and every cell and organ infusing them with life and dynamism. Pranayamas are also the preparatory practices for the awakening of the chakras (psychic centres) and aid in the perfection of kriya and kundalini yogas.

In the past pranayamas were taught to a select few as a part of higher yoga practice, but in the course of time Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati reintroduced the subject of pranayama as a part of daily yoga sadhana. The sequence in which the pranayamas are taught today by many yoga schools were developed by the Bihar School of Yoga.

Principles For Pranayama

Never strain or force the breath

Never become breathless with the effort of the practice

Proceed slowly as it takes time to build up lung capacity

Unless otherwise stated in the technique, always breathe through your nose

Deepen your awareness of the breath, remember the breath is carrying energy with it and this is what you eventually want to experience.