If specific breathing exercises are consciously practised in order to harmonize body and mind, then this is called “Pranayama“. It is a very essential, powerful part of the traditional Yoga-Philosophy and is already being practised for more than six centuries. The term “Pranayama” is coming from Sanskrit and can be split in two parts:

 “Prana” = the universal life force energy which is flowing in currents in and around our body and
 “Ayama” = expansion, control

So together “Pranayama” is telling us about our universal energy which can be consciously expanded and controlled in and around our body, hence it has the ability to influence our organism in many different ways:

Through the conscious breathing we can calm down the mind within minutes and transform inner restlessness into tranquility, creative energy and positivity. That means that there is not only a correlation between cognitive and physiological processes but also a direct link between physical and psychological changes and the changing of breathing, f.e.: Fear is leading to a much more shallow and faster respiration, or if we are scared we tend to instinctively inhale and hold the breath.

Mostly unconscious breathing patterns are closely related to unconscious emotional patterns which can lose their compulsive character by becoming more aware of our breathing technique.

Pranayama” and its effects on our body, mind and soul

Because of these reasons the integration of conscious breathing habits will lead to:

→ an improved immune system (which is especially nowadays more and more important) and build up and maintain a general health
→ a better coping with pressure, stress and responsibility
→ an improved concentration and dealing with emotions
→ more vitality and a deeper sense for serenity and well-being
→ less insomnia, PMS and irregularities of the menstrual cycle
→ diminish constipation and problems with digestion

It only takes about five to ten minutes per day to integrate a few breathing exercises in your schedule – only five minutes per day which will make your day ÔÇô I promise! Once experienced the effects on body and mind, you don’t want to miss this tool in your daily life any more. Your mental and physical health and your immune system will be beyond grateful!

Three different kinds of breathing

Physiological-wise we can distinguish three different kinds of breathing:

abdominal breathing or also called diaphragmatic breathing
chest breathing or also called thoracic breathing
high breathing or clavicle (collarbone) breathing

Conscious breathing exercises are replacing unconscious breathing patterns which we developed over many years.
Those exercises consist of inhaling, exhaling and holding the breath. They differ from each other in:

→Place/ Desha: (Where are you inhaling?) – right or left nostril or both; mouth; abdominal, chest or collarbone breathing
→Duration/ Kala: (How long are you exercising?) – shorter or longer time frame
→ Rhythm/ Sankhyabhi: (Relation between inhaling, exhaling and holding the breath) – f.e. Alternate Nostril Breathing 1-4-2

Usually we are breathing too shallow. That means we only stay with the high breathing, the collarbone breathing. That makes it already hard for some people to really inhale through the chest over a longer period of time because it is such a strange and unknown feeling. Nevertheless it is important to train this kind of breathing since in our chest-area are stored a lot of old, negative emotions from childhood, relationships, disappointments… which can be released by focusing on the heart-center and consciously breathing and observing the raising and lowering of the thoracic area.

Conscious Breathing: Become aware of your body

This can be your first exercise:

-Chest-Breathing-

1. Choose a calm area, preferably somewhere outside in nature and just sit down on a chair/bench or in a comfortable position on the floor or a cushion and place your hands on your knees.
2. Gently close your eyes and take three deep breathes to arrive in the here and now.
3. Become aware of your chest-area and the beating of your heart. Take your time until you can really feel the space around your heart.
4. Then start to inhale through your nose until you can feel that your thorax is raising, then exhale through both nostrils again. Your abdominal wall should not move, the breathing only goes into the thoracic area and you feel its raising and lowering.

Do this for at least five to ten minutes and feel the benefits afterwards.

If you want to go one step further, you can continue for another five minutes with:

-Bhastrika Pranayama-

(should you suffer from high blood pressure, asthma or hernia, do this breathing technique only in a gentle and slow way ÔÇô always listen to your body!)

→ is great for people with allergies or repetitive cough, flu and respiratory issues
→ is energizing the body and mind
→ benefits the nervous system and brain oxygenation
→ great for liver, kidneys, pancreas and spleen
→boosting the digestion

1. Choose a calm area, preferably somewhere outside in nature and just sit down on a chair/bench or in a comfortable position on the floor or a cushion and place your hands on your knees.
2. Gently close your eyes, take three deep breathes and fill your lungs with air. Hold each breath for five counts.
3a. Start to forcefully inhale through your nose with an audible sound and feel how your lungs are being filled with air, your diaphragm is raising.
3b. Now forcefully exhale through your nose with an audible sound and feel how your lungs are pushing out the air, your diaphragm is lowering.
4. One inhale and one exhale are forming one round of Bhastrika. Do at least ten rounds powered by the strong movement of the diaphragm and mimicking panting, and then relax and feel the effects.

For more Pranayama exercises and even a full sequence which includes the most important practices for both beginner and advanced, you can download our Pranayama-guide for instructions and effects the single exercises have on our body.

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know!

And now enjoy your practice.
Namast├®.