Pranayama: How Can We Use Breath Meditation in Everyday Life?

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What Is Pranayama Breathing?

Pranayama, that is, breath meditation is one of the most commonly known meditation types that are often mentioned by beginners. Some use it to get into meditation and develop more advanced techniques later on, some use it to increase sleep quality while others to increase their focus. Regardless of the desired outcome, Pranayama is an efficient way to improve the quality of life, not just your meditation skills.

Pranayama is a type of meditation that focuses on breathing techniques. The word “pranayama” is derived from two Sanskrit words: “prana,” meaning life force, and “ayama,” meaning to control or extend. Pranayama meditation involves controlled breathing exercises that are designed to promote physical and mental wellbeing.

During Pranayama meditation, practitioners use various techniques to control their breath, including:

  1. Deep breathing – Inhaling slowly and deeply through the nose and exhaling through the mouth, focusing on the sensation of the breath moving in and out of the body.

  2. Alternate nostril breathing – Using the thumb and index finger to close one nostril at a time while inhaling and exhaling through the other.

  3. Ujjayi breathing – Breathing through the nose while slightly contracting the throat muscles, creating a “whispering” sound in the back of the throat.

  4. Kapalbhati breathing – Rapidly exhaling through the nose while using the abdominal muscles to push the breath out.

  5. Bhastrika breathing – Rapidly inhaling and exhaling through the nose, similar to Kapalbhati breathing but with an equal emphasis on inhalation and exhalation.

Through these breathing techniques, Pranayama meditation aims to calm the mind and reduce stress, while also improving respiratory function, blood circulation, and overall physical health. Practicing Pranayama meditation regularly can help you develop greater awareness of your breath, increase your ability to focus and concentrate, and enhance your overall sense of wellbeing.

Pranayama Benefits

There is a lot of scientific research available on how can breath meditation improve sleep quality, reduce blood pressure, improve lung function, enhance cognitive performance or reduce nicotine cravings but this is not what I wanted to talk about. I believe that getting to research in times of the internet isn’t very demanding, so I’ll leave that to you and move on to what I really wanted to talk about, that is, my individual experience and insights on Pranayama.

Meditating with your breath can obviously teach you how to stay aware of your breath and what’s more important – control your breath. This can come in handy in many situations during the day as, for instance, just breathing deeper and slowing down the exhale phase can stimulate the vagus nerve which activates the parasympathetic nervous system and calms the body down. Being aware of your breath can simply help you to control it through the mechanism of awareness where being conscious of what’s going on allows you to apply certain techniques at the right time.

Another benefit of breath awareness is that you can apply it in sports. Conscious breathing can help you deliver the right amount of oxygen to your body during physical exertion. It can be done via controlling the urge to breathe faster and instead of doing that, breathing deeper and adding a small pause after each inhale instead. This manoeuvre increases the oxygen consumption and enables to alveoli to pass on more oxygen to the bloodstream which can help you keep going despite the fatigue.

Focusing on the breath for extended periods of time can also develop body awareness which obviously translates to better body control but that’s not the only benefit. If you are able to count each of your breaths for an hour straight and stay single-minded for so long, this has a lot of carryover to the other daily activities. It builds patience, allows you to get into the groove and achieve the state of trance. This, in turn, can help you activate the parts of your brain that you wouldn’t be able to access normally. In such a state, you are able to think more creatively of solutions and strategies to solve any potential problems you might be facing and that, my friend, can be a game-changer.

Being able to focus on your breath for a set amount of time while staying still is relatively easy, however, focusing on it while moving is an effortless task. If you are able to maintain the concentration of action that your autonomic nervous system is responsible for while simultaneously performing another task, it might come in handy in future when dealing with other issues. For instance, it could allow you to read a book and stay fully focused in a noisy environment or improve your concentration while driving a car and simultaneously speaking on the phone which, in turn, increases your safety by minimising the risk of overlooking a dangerous situation and potentially crashing a car.

One more benefit of such a meditation is that it can increase your reaction time by making you more conscious of what’s going on so you can react to external stimuli sooner because you don’t have to spend the time thinking of what’s happening around you as you’re constantly aware of that.

These benefits have many uses and can be real game-changers in certain situations and have supported me on many occasions countless time. They are not to be overlooked nor underestimated as in some cases, they might save your life if you do indeed manage to take your training to the advanced enough stage. Bear in mind, though, that it is not purely to the Pranayama itself but rather the processes required to be taken care of during the meditation itself, that is to be aware of the things you are usually unaware of and to be able to focus on them while simultaneously participating in other, focus-absorbing tasks.

How to Start Practicing Pranayama for Beginners?

Are you new to Pranayama meditation and wondering how to get started? You’re not alone! Many people are curious about this ancient practice, but don’t know where to begin. That’s why we’ve put together some helpful tips on how to start with Pranayama meditation for beginners.

First things first, find a quiet and comfortable space where you can practice without distraction. This could be a cozy corner of your home, a quiet park, or even your backyard. Make sure you’re sitting or lying down in a comfortable position, with your back straight and your arms at your sides. You can even use pillows or blankets to support your body if needed.

Now, take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Repeat this a few times to help calm your mind and prepare for the practice.

Next, experiment with different Pranayama techniques to find what works best for you. Alternate nostril breathing, ujjayi breathing, kapalbhati breathing, and bhastrika breathing are all popular techniques to try. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time. It takes practice to master these techniques, so be patient with yourself and keep trying.

If you’re feeling unsure about your practice, consider seeking guidance from a qualified teacher or instructor. They can help you learn proper technique and provide guidance as you develop your practice. There are also many resources available online, such as articles, videos, and podcasts, that can help you learn more about Pranayama meditation.

Remember to focus on the present moment and let go of any distracting thoughts or emotions. If you find yourself getting distracted, gently bring your attention back to your breath and the present moment.

Lastly, be patient and consistent in your practice. Start with just a few minutes per day and gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable. With regular practice, you’ll gradually develop greater control over your breath and experience the many benefits of Pranayama meditation.

In conclusion, Pranayama meditation is a powerful tool for reducing stress and anxiety, improving respiratory function, and enhancing your overall sense of wellbeing. By following these tips, you can start your Pranayama meditation practice and experience its many benefits. So why not give it a try today?

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