As a beginning yoga breather, what can be expected from Pranayama?

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Yogi Cameron Alborzian
Alternative & Complementary Medicine

The tradition of yoga teaches us that an ability to control the breath (Pranayama) is directly related to an ability to control the mind. When first exploring breathing as part of your yoga practice, you will find that you are less susceptible to the fluctuations of the mind that cause particularly emotional reactions. When you encounter adversity, the slower, more methodical breathing that you have been cultivating through your practice will allow you to detach from whatever conflict has arisen and allow you to observe your thoughts rather than fall prey to them.  

A good first exercise through which to explore this device is the full breath.  

  • Sit upright, and close your eyes. 
  • Breathe in through your nose for several seconds, allowing your abdomen to expand.  
  • Breathe out through your nose for twice as many seconds, allowing your abdomen to contract.  

Repeat this process for several minutes, and experiment with using the technique in moments of crisis or conflict.

What you can expect really depends how much you put into Pranayama as it is crucial to commit to a regular practice and cultivate your breath properly. Some yoga students take to the practice easily and some struggle, so keep moderate expectations to begin. You will probably begin to notice that the breath and mental states are closely related as you get further into the practice of yoga. Everyday breathing will slow down and taking fewer breaths throughout the day will expend less energy leaving you with more energy for other activities of your choice. Pranayama benefits range from stoking the gastric fire, which improves digestion and detoxification; opens sinuses allowing more air into the body; and can help ailments including nervous disorders, indigestion, cough, and fever. Pranayama can significantly calm the nerves and reduce anxiety.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.