Pranayama Basics

With a new year upon us, I always find this a good time to evaluate and recalibrate my yoga practice. By this I mean setting new goals toward advancing my yoga practice, or it could even be re-committing to a daily meditation practice or coming back to pranayama basics. For the beginners out there, Pranayama is the practice of breath control. In sanskrit, Pranayama translates to extension of breath or life force. Creating a breath practice in yoga is quite important, as in most yoga practices we connect our breath to our movement, transitionally moving from one pose to the next while maintaining a continues and controlled breath.

Just as there are a number of different asana poses in yoga there are just as many different types of pranayama techniques. For today’s post we’ll cover a beginner technique that every yogi; beginner or advanced and non-yogi alike can benefit from. The practice below is very relaxing, calming and soothing. Go ahead and give a try just before bed and you’ll melt into deep yogi slumber.

  • Find a comfortable seat placing both feet firmly on the floor, preferably barefoot, with sit bones firmly grounded in your seat. Your back should be long and tall with shoulders and collar bones wide.  If you feel like you may get antsy sitting up feel free to lay down in shavasana.
  • Close your eyes and breathe deeply for a few moments, take this time to connect internally with yourself.
  • Breathe in gently and slowly, mentally count to five and at the end of your inhale pause for one count.
  • Continue to breathe out slowly on your exhale, stay in control and try to breathe out until you count to 10. Don’t force or gasp trying to exhale to 10. Extend your exhale for as long as you can, overtime and with practice you will eventually reach the count of 10 comfortably.
  • Pause for one count at the end of your exhale. Repeat, beginning with a new inhalation, count to five, and take your time with your five count inhale. Repeat, exhale and count to up to 10.

You can practice this breath for 5 – 10 minutes a day as a beginner, as your practice continues and lung capacity expands you may practice up to 30 minutes per day.

Please note: practicing pranayama can affect everyone differently and can be dangerous if done incorrectly. As a beginner, I encourage you to check in with yourself and if at any point you feel light-headed, uncomfortable or short of breath to stop pranayama and just breathe as normal.

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