There are many things that you do without much thought and breathing is most likely one of them. However, did you know that the breath holds the key to numerous physical, emotional and spiritual benefits? An ancient yogic practice known as pranayama has the ability to increase stamina, stimulate weight loss, create oxygenation within the cells, put an end to asthma, purify the blood, create balance between logic and creativity, prepare your mind for meditation and inner exploration, help you experience deep levels of relaxation, take you to altered states of reality, create emotional calm and mental clarity.
At birth our life begins with our first breath and it ends with our last breath. We are all connected by the cosmic breath, just as we are connected to all of life. Learning to breathe in a way that benefits an individual will always benefit the whole, as we are all one, here together in this experience called life.
We take approximately 18,000 to 20,000 breaths a day. That is a lot of breathing. Most if not all breathing is done through the nose, and with good cause. Breathing though the nose provides many benefits including filtering the air, as well as warming it and keeping it moist. Air then arrives to the lungs in the best condition to provide efficient transfer of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
Pranayama, a Sanskrit word, is the art and science of breathing. A series of breathing practices that are a part of the yogic traditions in India, pranayama has endless healing potentials. The breath is a vital process of life, often overlooked in regards to health and wellness. We influence our bodies on each level and within every cell through our breathing.
The ancients long ago recognized that working with the breath yielded impressive results. Through pranayama practices, the infinite, raw energy of the universe known as prana, can be utilized for your benefit. You can gain greater control over universal energies, as well as learn to control your emotions and body. By controlling the breath, you also control the nerves and the mind. If you can control your mind, you can utilize it as the tool that it is, creating all sorts of good fortune for yourself and others.
Pranayama is the expansion and manifestation of prana, the life energy. Prana can be cultivated and channeled through the different pranayama breathing exercises. Pranayama has been proven an effective method for improving health, in addition to prevention and management of diseases. According to yogic philosophy, disease is the result of blocks and imbalances in the flow of prana.
In the body, energy is being continuously consumed, produced and exerted. The shifting of energy, creates of flow of energy within the body. There are many breathing techniques for controlling prana through the breath and different ways of breathing create different flows of energy within the body. For example, faster breathing creates shorter waves of energy, or bursts of energy and slower breathing creates longer waves, or steady slow, frequencies of energy.
Three types of breathing exist: thoracic breathing (mid chest), clavicular breathing (upper chest) and diaphragmatic breathing (belly breathing). Diaphragmatic breathing is the ideal way of breathing. This is what babies and children do naturally. Take a look at your abdomen. Do you see your belly move up and down as you breath? If you do, this means you are diaphragmatic breathing.
Pranayama can have tremendous value in your life. For more information on this ancient secret of youth and longevity, please visit the University of Metaphysical Sciences. They have an excellent class on the subject, as well as many supportive teachers to help you along the way.