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Pranayama Basic’s

Pranayama is the practice of conscious and controlled breathing. Pranayama in yoga is understood to carry the Life Force Energy of an individual. Prana meaning Life Force, Ayama meaning to-Expand.

Pranayama as a Conscious breathing practice, when engaged with on a regular basis, can help relieve: Anxiety; Depression; Post-traumatic-distress; and more generally, Tension in the body and mind. As stress and tension in the mind + body are major contributors to many health conditions, pranayama through it's ability to relieve tension, can help decrease the severity and/or lower the risks of developing dis-eases such as: Asthma, Substance and behavioural addiction/abuse, Insomnia, High blood pressure (and related conditions i.e. heart attacks and strokes).

The Breath as medicine. When one is mindful of their inhale and exhale it can act as a bridge between the body + mind, pranayama then becomes a tool in becoming aware of one's habitual tendencies. There are many forms and techniques of pranayama, some fast while others slow, each technique carrying it’s different health benefits.

Slow breathing techniques, which are more commonly used in meditation, cause the mind and therefore the body, to come into a calm, relaxed and alert state of being. This calming and alert state caused by the slow deep breathing, induces the sympathetic nervous system (fight, flight, freeze mode) to decrease and the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest mode) to switch on. As well as switching the nervous system into one of rest, the practice of pranayama in itself draws concentration away from the endless-running-mind which can be a huge player in creating high levels of stress and tension, and helps the mind focus onto one point, the continuous experience of breathing. The many beneficial aspects which occur through the practice of pranayama, leads to a dynamic solution in releasing held tension in the mind + body, which intern facilitates the capacity for an individual to access states of self regeneration and healing.

I hope this has given you some clarity into what pranayama means, what it is, and the benefits of a regular practice. I've left one simple pranayama practice below if you'd like to try.

Sending good vibes to you my friend :-) enjoy. The Belly Breath/Pranayama

Begin in a position which feels most comfortable to you, laying down, seated on a chair or cross legged on the floor. Become comfortable where you are, adjust the position you are in, until you no longer need to move, and can stay relatively still for the next 5-10 minutes.

Bring your palms to rest gently on your abdomen, and close down the eyes. Take a deep big breath in through your nose, and sigh out the mouth, three times.

Return back to your regular breath, breathing in and out through the nose, aware of the sensation and temperature of the air as it comes in and out of the nostrils.

Begin to deepen your inhale, allowing the air to fill the lower belly, and extend the breath on the exhale Breath as if you are the tidal motion of the waves on a beach, crashing on the shore and reseeding back into the vast ocean As soon as you get to the depth of your inhale, begin your exhale, as soon as you get to the end of your exhale begin your inhale, Repeat three times Then deepen the inhale further by filling the lower and mid belly, continue to lengthen the breath on the exhale Repeat three times

Finally we come into the full belly breath, inhale gradually into the lower, mid, and upper belly, deepening and opening internally with oxygen, then consciously with gentle control gradually release the air from the upper belly, out of the mid belly, and lower belly, with an extended exhale

Continue repeating the last full belly breath, deepening and expanding on the inhale through the nose and lengthening, extending on the exhale out the nose

You may want to put a timer on for 5 minutes to begin with and work your way up, when you feel ready you can extend the time you practice this full belly pranayama

After this practice, with your eyes still gently closed, allow the breath to return back to it’s normal rhythm, stay here for a minute or more and simply sense into your body, notice if there is any change in your experience (without judgement, just noticing). Bring the palms to the centre of your chest, honour yourself for practicing, and perhaps honour the practice itself, Rub your hands together and place them gently over your eyes, blink your eyes open. This Belly Breath Pranayama is now complete. Namaste :-)

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