The meaning of Yoga is union – e.g. the unity of body and mind or on a deeper levels the Self and the Universe – they are one. The bridge between the body and mind is the breath and as you use the breath and become more aware you will soon come to realise what is within is also all around i.e. they are one.
Pranayama means control of vital energy or breath. In Sanskrit the word for breath is the same for the word life – Prana, this gives you a big clue about how important breathing is for your health and well-being, Yama means control – so the literally translation is control of the breath (or life which is prana). Yoga without prana is like the sea without water.
So to use yogic breathing, try to become aware of your breath and observe it, maybe as you are sitting down or lying down, allow the abdomen and chest to rise as you inhale and fall as you exhale, both being rhythmical, comfortable and smooth.
Benefits of yogic breathing
In addition to relaxing and calming the body and mind, when you observe and control the breath you gain other benefits
– Improves posture as uses muscles to support the spine and abdominal muscles
– Reduces stress, anxiety and tension
– You take in more oxygen which is delivered to every cell in the body
– It increases your metabolism – great for managing weight
– Tones the abdominal area
– Strengthens immune system
Just a little note to remember, the diaphragm separates the lungs and heart from the abdominal organs, and is above the solar plexus area. When you start to use the diaphragm muscle it becomes more flexible, psychologically this can release any emotions that have been stored up or suppressed especially if your digestive organs are linked to your stress, so breathing properly i.e. yogic breathing can release emotions or sighs as you release the energy, the prana, the life through your breath. So don’t worry about this it’s a great sign you are releasing something not just on a physical level and will lead to a more fulfilling experience of life and the breath.