The practice of Yogic breathing affects the human body in very predictable ways. The Sanskrit word, “pranayama” literally means the control of our life energy (prana). Prana is a bright and lively form of energy that is more subtle than air. It can literally be defined as the substratum of energy that is the essence of the universe. The practice of pranayama controls and cultivates our vital life energy, called “prana,” through concentrated breathing exercises of various rhythms, ratios, and sequences.
Through a steady practice of pranayama, it is possible to propel our life energy, and new oxygen, throughout the entire body. This practice revitalizes all of our organs, including our hearts and brains. It also helps to stabilize our endocrine system for optimal mental health and energy balance. Pranayama affects the human machine as a calculated method for balancing and revitalizing every cell in our bodies. It also helps to control anxiety and all the attendant health issues these problems bring with them.
One of the primary benefits of a regular pranayama practice, for the human machine, is that it circulates newly oxygenated blood throughout the entire body. As the heart pumps more vigorously, fresh oxygen is propelled throughout your entire circulatory system, into every nook and cranny of your physical body.
Better blood circulation, throughout the brain, helps to support optimal cognitive functioning in the areas of memory and concentration. It also helps to lower cortisol and adrenalin levels, which in turn, helps to alleviate anxiety and depression. As the heart and lungs are exercised more vigorously, these critical organs also become stronger and more able to circulate freshly oxygenated blood throughout the entire body. This gives the Yoga practitioner a deep feeling of calm well-being, as well as a reserve of stable energy.
Pranayama is a system of Yoga training techniques, whereby the practitioner consciously controls the rate, frequency, and ratio of his or her breathing patterns. Yoga breathing practices are said to purify all of the channels of energy in our physical and subtle bodies. The ultimate effects of regular pranayama practice are quite predictable in regard to one’s quality of life. As Yogic breath increases the quality and quantity levels of prana within our bodies, our energy levels rise.
Thus, our endocrine system is balanced, bringing about a sensation of overflowing with blissful well-being. A regular pranayama practice strengthens the heart and lungs, increasing cardiovascular health, and helping to lower blood pressure. If one values only the physical outcome of pranayama, it stands alone as the very best physical exercise in existence. Proper breathing is more important than any other form of exercise, due to the fact that we will only live a few minutes without breathing.
© Copyright 2011 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
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