“Breath is the link between the body and mind. If the mind is a kite the breath is the thread. The longer the thread, the higher the kite can go.” – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Benefits of pranayamas (breathing techniques)
* Enhances the quantity and quality of life force
* Clears blocked energy channels
* Harmonizes the body, mind and spirit
* Boosts the immune system
* Rejuvenates the body and mind
* Slows down the ageing process
Breathe out stress, breathe in joy
Did you know that we can throw out 90 percent of the toxins from our body by breathing correctly? We can learn the art of breathing right by observing new born babies. Have you seen their stomach gently rising and falling as they breathe in and breathe out? Breath is our vital source of energy. The key to healthy and happy living lies in right breathing. When we attend to our breath, it can heal us from all worries and anxieties.
At a conference in Germany, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar explained the connect between breath and emotions, "Our breath is linked to our emotions. For every emotion, there is a particular rhythm in the breath. So, when you cannot directly harness your emotions, with the help of breath you can do that. If you are in theater, you would know that a director asks you to breathe faster when you have to show anger. If you have to show a serene scene, director would tell you to breathe softer and slower. If we understand the rhythm of our breath, we are able to have a say over our mind, we can win over any negative emotions like anger, jealousy, greed, and we are able to smile more from our heart."
Is your breath deep or shallow?
Most of us breathe from the chest – such shallow breathing sends a signal to the brain that all is not well – we are stressed. Alternatively, breathing from the abdomen boosts respiration, ensures a rich supply of oxygen to the brain and signals that all is well.
Observe your breath and note if it is deep or shallow.
Prana: the breath of life
The ancient Indian system of yoga identified the power of breath and strove to maximize its efficiency by developing special breathing techniques. The ancient yogis discovered prana as the universal life force or energy which distinguishes the living from the dead. We get prana from food, rest, breath and by being in a calm, happy frame of mind. However, the most important source of prana is breath – when our breath stops, we die.
It was discovered that the quantity and quality of prana and the way it flows through the nadis (subtle energy channels) determines one’s state of mind.
Due to lack of attention, the energy channels in the average person may be partially blocked, making the flow of prana broken and jerky. This results in increased worry, fear, uncertainty, conflict, tension and other negative qualities. When the prana level is high and its flow is continuous, smooth and steady, then the mind is calm, positive and enthusiastic.
Here are some popular breathing techniques you may like to try
You can practice these breathing techniques at any time of the day whenever your stomach is empty.
Is your mind buzzing with activity? Can't stop thinking about what someone said about you? Find a quiet corner and try the Bee breath (Bhramari pranayama) to apply brakes in the buzzing mind. This breathing technique is a boon for those with hypertension.
Among the breathing techniques, Kapal Bhati (Skull Shining breath) is considered the most important and effective for detoxifying the body and clearing the energy channels.
Low energy levels? Three rounds of Bhastrika pranayama (Bellow breath) will get your energy levels soaring!
Can't concentrate on the task at hand? Try nine rounds of Nadi Shodhan pranayama followed by a short 10-minute meditation. Nadi Shodhan pranayama calms and centers the mind by bringing into harmony the left and right hemispheres of the brain which correlate to the logical and emotional sides of our personality.
Yoga practice helps develop the body and mind bringing a lot of health benefits yet is not a substitute for medicine. It is important to learn and practice yoga techniques under the supervision of a trained Sri Sri Yoga teacher. In case of any medical condition, practice yoga techniques after consulting a doctor and a Sri Sri Yoga teacher. Find a Sri Sri Yoga course at an Art of Living Center near you. Do you need information on courses or share feedback? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.