What Exactly Is the Practice of Pranayama?

When it comes to practicing yoga, one of the most important aspects to consider is breathing. Without complete control over your breathing, you will fail to achieve a level of balance that is needed to receive optimal results from your yoga sessions.

This is why a majority of those who practice and preach yoga actively consider pranayama as one of the most important parts of the yoga practice. Even though it is heavily regarded as one of the most important aspects of yoga itself, a lot of people fail to place enough emphasis on it as something that needs to be practiced regularly.

Learning pranayama can offer significant improvements to not only your yoga sessions but also to your life in various ways. Outlined below are some reasons to practice pranayama, benefits of pranayama, and more information about it.

What Is Pranayama?

Pranayama is a part of yoga that is meant to teach you the art of breathing. There are different forms of it that all have the same essential end goal, which is to teach different methods of mindful breathing. While practicing it, each breath should be mindfully inhaled and exhaled. This can help increase mindfulness around breathing and contribute to a wide range of health benefits.

Types of Pranayama

Alternate Nostril Breathing

This type of pranayama breathing is completed by breathing directly through one nostril while alternating each breath.

In order to conduct this breathing practice, sit down in a comfortable position. Then, begin by breathing through your left nostril and alternate to the right nostril. While breathing, close the opposite nostril by using your right thumb, and close the left nostril with your ring and pinky finger. Throughout the entire breathing practice, your mouth will remain closed and not be used for breathing in or out.

When you breathe in through either the right or left nostril, you will then close it with the correct finger and you will exhale through the opposite nostril.

Dirga Pranayama

This is also known as a three-part breath, and it is a good option for those who new to yoga breathing. Throughout this practice, the goal is to completely fill your lungs with air, feeling it reach your abdomen, diaphragm, and chest.

Once that is completed, you will exhale completely. The purpose of this type of breathing practice is to put your mind in a more relaxed state and ensure that you are able to completely fill your lungs with oxygen while removing all possible carbon dioxide.

Reasons to Practice Pranayama

Stabilizes Mood

One of the most important reasons you’ll want to consider practicing pranayama is due to the potential impact that it may have on your mood. By practicing pranayama, you’ll have an important tool for stabilizing your mood and relaxing your body.

Increases Mindfulness

Because you are going to completely focus on your breathing during this practice, it is going to allow you to concentrate on establishing a mind-body connection. The level of stillness that you’ll experience during the sessions can enhance your ability to achieve the highest level of mindfulness.

Serves as a Form of Meditation

Pranayama can offer a lot of the benefits that you would be able to experience from stand-alone meditation. Because of this, you could potentially use the practice as a replacement for regular meditation. By being able to have full control over your breath, you’ll be able to assist yourself in entering a meditative state, which has many benefits of its own.

Benefits of Pranayama

Reduces Stress Levels

Studies have shown that pranayama breathing practice can, in fact, lower stress levels. 1 As mentioned previously, pranayama breathing can improve your body’s ability to handle stress by putting your body into a natural state of relaxation. 

Improves Concentration 

Because you will be boosting the oxygen supply to the brain during this breathing practice, it is going to allow the brain to function optimally.

Final Thoughts

Proper breathing and breathing practice like pranayama are capable of helping trick the body and mind into a parasympathetic state, or a state of relaxation. Through this practice, you train yourself to use the entire range of your breathing capabilities in order to experience full, engaging, and mindful breathing.

Overall, there are many reasons why you may want to consider practicing pranayama. It is easily one of the better practices that you can implement in your daily life.

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.