Pranayama, the yogic breathwork, offers a variety of physical and mental health benefits. In the yogic tradition, it is used as a tool to calm the mind in preparation for meditation. Regardless if you meditate or not, pranayama can be helpful with a lot of diseases like anxiety, stress-related illnesses, asthma and malabsorption, to name a few.
Would you believe me if I told you, that the majority of grownups do not breathe properly? If you look at children, you can see that they are using the physiological belly breathing. This is our default breathing habit, but in the course of time we unlearn to do so. Due to primarily sedentary lifestyle, desk jobs and chronic stress we tend to use chest breathing most of the time.
Pranayama helps you re-learn breathing
I´ve been there myself. Working a desk job for years in advertising and suffering from chronic stress I was completely unable to belly breath and I was not even aware of it. I was to find out by seeing my osteopath because of my lower back pain. She figured out, that my diaphragm was completely tense and showed me some really basic breathing techniques to untighten it. After practicing for a while I was able to breath deep into my belly again and was astonished by these simple and yet so powerful breathwork techniques. After seeing what breathwork could do for me, I started really getting into the whole topic of breathwork and especially pranayama.
The difference between breathwork and pranayama
So what is the difference between breathwork and pranayama? You might have noticed that I´m using both terms when writing about the subject. As mentioned earlier, pranayama is kind of the yogic breathwork and has been around for thousands of years. So you could say that breathwork is a general term for any therapy which uses breathing techniques for healing. There are several more „modern“ concepts available gaining more popularity at the moment. Furthermore, there have been several pioneers in breathwork also in Europe in the beginning of the 20th century and they still have schools and courses, for example, in Germany.
What do they all have in common? From the ancient yogis to the more modern breathwork teachers, all of them who practiced regularly got really old. Like in their 100th… Coincidence? I doubt it. Our body needs vital energy in the form of oxygen to survive. The more you supply your cells with this fuel, the better they will be able to maintain their vital processes. You can feel the results immediately, not only on a physical but also on a mental level. Pranayama will help you to focus, release tension and blockages, clear your energy channels and harmonize body and mind.
So how to get started with breathwork?
Pranayama has a wide range of different techniques for beginners and advanced students so you won´t get bored too soon. Depending of what you want to achieve, there are several different beginner pranayamas to start with before moving on to the more „difficult“. I love to start my mornings with a 30 minute breathwork session with some activating and balancing techniques, varying from time to time depending on what I need most. Sometimes it is more of a calming practice before going to bed to unwind and release of stress and tension and other times it is a super activating session to boost mental clarity.
So is pranayama for you?
Absolutely, if you
- Want to focus your mind
- Enhance lung capacity
- Get more oxygen into your cells
- Slow down aging
- Want to build a healthy routine
- Boost your metabolism
- Increase athletic performance
- Detox your body
- Let go of stress and anxiety
- Have a chronic lung disease like asthma.
I´m a certified yoga teacher who majored in pranayama and a breathwork coach. If you are interested in breathing with me and receiving your individual therapy, get in touch here.