Updated: Dec 30, 2019
We breath all the time so why do we need to focus on the breath during our yoga
Pranayama is the practice of controlling the motion of the lungs to control the prana
or life force as it moves through the body.
Prana meaning life force and ayama meaning to stretch.
There are three main types of pranayama; inhalation, exhalation and holding the
As our heart rate increases during Surya Namaskars (Sun Salutations) the
uncontrolled breath reduces the flow of the prana. Rather than feeling energized in
this practice, fatigue may be the result which then effect performance of the asanas.
When practicing a particularly challenging asana it is an automatic response to hold
the breath especially if it is a pose that you are continually trying to master. As a
result, the mind and body are stressed causing anxiety and an imbalance in the
Autonomic Nervous System. The effect is a tense body and an unfocused mind
which may at worst cause injury.
Changes in our lifestyle, work patterns, irregular sleep, dietary habits and our
relationships all affect the flow of prana and can cause feelings of being drained of
To re balance our nervous system and increase the flow of energy practice this yogic
By Swami Satyananda Saraswati
‘Sit in a meditation posture or lie in shavasana and relax the whole body.
Inhale slowly and deeply, allowing the abdomen to expand fully.
Try to breathe so slowly that little or no sound of the breath can be heard.
Feel the air reaching into the bottom of the lungs.
At the end of abdominal expansion, start to expand the chest outward and
When the ribs are fully expanded, inhale a little more until the expansion is felt
in the upper portion of the lungs around the base of the neck. The shoulders
and collar bone should also move up slightly. Some tension will be felt in the
The rest of the body should be relaxed.
Feel the air filling the upper lobes of the lungs.
This completes one inhalation.
The whole process should be one continuous movement, each phase of
breathing merging into the next without any obvious transition point.
There should be no jerks or unnecessary strain.
The breathing should be like the swell of the sea.
Now start the exhale.
First, relax the lower neck and upper chest, then allow the chest to contract
downward and then inward.
Next, allow the diaphragm to push upward and toward the chest
Without straining, try to empty the lungs as much as possible by drawing or
pulling the abdominal wall as near as possible to the spine.
The entire movement should be harmonious and flowing.
Hold the breath for a few seconds at the end of exhalation.
This completes one round of yogic breathing.
First start with 5-10 rounds a day building up to 10 minutes daily’.