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The Magic of Breathwork and Praanayama


Breath is vital to life. Without constant breath, we die. However, breathing deeply and fully has become somewhat of an anomaly. How many times have you gone about your day, and only realize after a long day of work that you haven't REALLY taken a deep, cleansing breath all day long?

More attention is being brought back to the breath, and through this attention we are becoming more aware of breath practices that we can perform anywhere we are.

There are many different types of breath work, but I have decided to highlight two of the most popular ones at this time.

Standard definitions of breath work and praanayama:

Breath work: Breathwork is an umbrella term for various New Age practices in which the conscious control of breathing is meant to influence mental, emotional and physical state.

Praanayama: Praanayama is a Sanskrit word meaning "life force" or "breath control" and translates to the regulation of the breath to affect the mind-body connection and to regulate and relax the nervous system. Praanayama is commonly used in Kundalini and Kriya yoga techniques.

Breath work techniques and praanayama are relatively the same idea, they just come from different origins. The Eastern world has prioritized the importance of breath for thousands of years. The Western world has just started rediscovering the cleansing and healing power of the breath in the last 30 years.

When we use different breath work techniques we are literally moving energy and oxygen throughout the body. Breath work floods the brain with oxygen and helps alkalinize our cells and release toxins. Oftentimes, this creates something affectionately known in breath work circles as a "breath work high". In a way, breath work is a voluntary hyperventilation that is beneficial for our bodies.

Below, I've listed a couple of my favourite breath work and praanayama techniques that I've learned over the years.

Wim Hof Breathing:

  • Get comfortable in a seated position (do not do this breathing exercise while driving or standing up)

  • Once you’re comfortable, you can start to breathe in and out 30 times. This is essentially deep breathing at a steady pace in and out through the mouth. You may feel a lightheadedness or a tingling sensation.

  • After doing 30 power breaths, hold your breath for as long as you can. Close your eyes and focus on your third eye chakra

  • After the breath retention, take a deep breath in and hold it for another 10-15 seconds before exhaling deeply

  • Repeat the whole process for another two rounds

  • Meditate and relax deeply for an unspecified amount of time

For more information on Wim Hof and his breathing techniques, visit: https://www.wimhofmethod.com.

Alternate Nostril Breathing Praanayama (Nadi Shodhan)

(best practiced on an empty stomach)

  • Sit in easy pose with a straight spine and relaxed shoulders

  • Place the left hand on the left knee, palm up

  • Place the tips of the index finger and middle finger of the right hand in the space between the eyebrows. Then, place the ring finger and little finger on the left nostril, and the thumb on the right nostril. We will use the ring finger and little finger to open or close the left nostril and thumb for the right nostril

  • Press your thumb down on the right nostril and breathe out gently through the left nostril

  • Now breathe in from the left nostril and then press the left nostril gently with the ring finger and little finger. Removing the right thumb from the right nostril, breathe out from the right

  • Breathe in from the right nostril and exhale from the left. Continue inhaling and exhaling from alternate nostrils

For more information on the Nadi Shodhan praanayama, visit: https://www.artofliving.org/yoga/breathing-techniques/alternate-nostril-breathing-nadi-shodhan

Thanks for reading this post on breath work and praanayama, I hope this will encourage you to explore the infinite benefits and opportunities of breath work on your own....

P.S: Happy Aquarius Full Moon/Lunar Eclipse, loves!

With gratitude,

Emily

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