Pranayama Guide: Easy to Follow Breathing Exercise
This is a pranayama guide to help you understand what pranayama is and how to practice it. If you’re new to the world of yoga and meditation pranayama probably is not a word in your daily vocabulary. Pranayama is a Sanskrit word meaning “breath control” or “an extension of the prana.”
Prana means breath or life force. Therefore, pranayama is about controlling your breathing. This can be done by practicing breathing exercises originating from ancient India.
When you practice pranayama, you are purifying your body and mind by controlling, regulating, and channeling your breath. Pranayama encompasses a variety of breathing exercises and techniques. These are designed to bring about positive changes into our lives. The more control you have over your breath the more control you have over your mind and over your life.
Follow this step-by-step pranayama guide.
- Sit upright in a chair, spine straight, or lay down with your back on the floor.
- Relax yourself entirely. Don’t force your breathing. If your throat is tense, it will be more difficult for air to move throughout your body.
- Place your fingers lightly on your lower belly and breathe in.
- As you breathe in, try to bring your breath down into your lower belly. If you don’t succeed at first, keep trying! Just breathe in and out, slowly and deeply, until the fingers on your belly move with your breath.
- Now move both of your hands to rest lightly on the space just under your collarbones. This is your upper chest. Stay relaxed while trying to bring your breath into this part of your body.
- When you are able to breathe into both your lower belly and upper chest, concentrate on your back. Take in a very slow, very deep breath. Concentrate on feeling the entire space of your back expanding like a balloon. Then slowly exhale, and feel the “balloon” deflate.
- Repeat the process of breathing fully into your lower belly, your upper chest, and your back, until you are able to do so naturally and comfortably with each breath.
After this simple exercise you can feel what is it to be conscious of your breathing. Imagine what fully practicing pranayama can do for you. At the Open Mind Center there is a meditation room also called the Roswell meditation center. Here you can practice your pranayama breathing in a quiet space. Our instructors also guide pranayama breathing in our meditation and yoga classes.
Pranayama is incorporated into our yoga and meditation classes, too. In yoga, breath is tied into movement, which makes pranayama an essential aspect. In meditation, pranayama helps make you more aware of yourself, an important part of any meditation practice. The instructor may not explicitly say “Okay, now we’re doing pranayama!” but they will be guiding you through very similar breathing exercises. Or, the instructor will say, “Okay, we’re going to practice a pranayama breathing exercise” and they will provide you with all the guidance you need to fully enjoy the benefits of a breathing technique that can help increase your energy, calm your mind, or increase lung capacity, among many other benefits.