A lot of people believe that the secret to recharging your mind is through breathing. Pranayama is a yogic breathing exercise that offers numerous benefits such as reducing stress and improving one’s physical health. However, before practicing some yoga breathing exercise for beginners, you have to learn and understand the principles of pranayama.
Before we go to the different yoga breathing exercises for beginners, it is best to understand prana and its effects to your body. By understanding this concept, you will be able to efficiently perform the pranayama.
In yoga, prana is the energy or life force that nourishes our minds and keeps our bodies alive. While our blood flows through various blood vessels and capillaries, the prana flows through a number of delicate energy channels known as nadis.
So, what is the connection between breathing and prana? As you know, our life force ends when we stop breathing. However, some people are breathing and still have a low prana. Thus, some yoga experts describe prana as the life force that rides on our breaths to flow freely.
But, what does it mean to have a low or high prana? Basically, when the prana is able to continuously flow throughout the body, it brings forth a calm and positive state of mind. A person with a low prana, on the other hand, frequently experiences negative emotions such as worry, tensions, fear, and uncertainty. This is because of the broken flow of their prana.
Thus, pranayama aims to improve your life’s quality by expanding your prana or improving your breathing.
Pranayama and Its Benefits
After defining prana or life force, let’s move on to the meaning of pranayama. In yoga, Ayama is defined as “to extend or expand.” Thus, a lot of yogis interpret the pranayama practice as a way to liberate one’s prana all over their body through the help of controlled breathing.
As a result, pranayama provides the following health benefits:
- Revitalizes your body, mind, and spirit
- Reduces anxiety and worry by calming your mind
- Removes brain fog by improving your focus and concentration
- Increases your energy
- Creates enthusiasm or a positive mentality
- Boosts your immunity
- May help prevent premature aging
Pranayama and Controlling Your Emotions
Before we go to the various yoga breathing exercises for beginners, let me first present another valuable benefit of pranayama – controlling your emotions.
As you know, there is a connection between your breathing and emotions. You may have noticed that your breathing is fast when you’re anxious or angry. Thus, if we understand our breathing patterns, we can conquer any negative emotion through our minds.
In one study, it was shown that mimicking breathing patterns (sad, angry, or happy) can create a matching emotional state. An example for this is when directors instruct their actors to breathe slower and softer for a peaceful scene or to breathe faster to show anger and conflict.
With that, one of the main principles of pranayama is to overpower your negative emotions through the skillful use of various breathing techniques. Many yogis consider this practice as a powerful tool to enhance their inner peace and overall well-being.
5 Yoga Breathing Exercises for Beginners
1. Bhramari Pranayama or Humming Bee Breath
In this list of yoga breathing exercises for beginners, the Bhramari Pranayama is the practice that can calm a worried, agitated, and frustrated mind. Moreover, people with high blood pressure will greatly benefit from this pranayama.
2. Nadi Shodhan Pranayama or Alternate Nostril Breathing
As mentioned, nadi is the energy channel where prana flows. When various factors such as stress and toxic substances block these subtle energy channels, a person may experience negative emotions. Among these feelings are depression, inability to concentrate, and irritation. Fortunately, the Nadi Shodhan can help clear these blocked channels.
3. Ujjayi or Victory Breath
The Ujjayi pranayama is the most popular yoga breathing exercises for beginners. One reason is that this breathing technique demonstrates a clear link between our emotions and breathing. Thus, by practicing this pranayama, you’ll be able to calm your mind and release your pent-up feelings.
4. Bhrastrika Pranayama or Bellows Breath
Aside from calming the mind, Bhastrika pranayama has a rejuvenating influence to your body. Thus, increasing your energy levels.
However, before practicing this breathing exercise, you must first practice the Nadi Shodhan pranayama for at least three months.
5. Kapalbhati or Skull Shining Breath
Kapalbhati literally means “the shining forehead.” Basically, most yogis believe that a glowing forehead is not only a sign of a healthy body. A forehead that shines is also an indication of a sharp and refined mind.
With that, kapalbhati pranayama is an effective way to cleanse your body and clear your energy channels. As a result, your entire system has a perfect balance.
A Few Reminders before Practicing Pranayama
Keep in mind that pranayama deal with a delicate force. As such, one of the best tips for yoga beginners is to seek and learn from a certified yoga instructor. They will not only guide you on the proper way to perform these breathing techniques. They can also answer your questions and help you understand that philosophy of yoga.
Aside from that, some yoga breathing exercises for beginners are not for everyone. The kapalbhati and bhastrika pranayama should not be performed by individuals with high blood pressure, heart diseases, and glaucoma. People who have recently undergone a major surgery should also avoid these breathing exercises. Lastly, these types of pranayama are not recommended for pregnant women.
Understanding Pranayama – https://www.artofliving.org/yoga/breathing-techniques/yoga-and-pranayama
Respiratory Feedback in the Generation of Emotion (study) – https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232965660_Respiratory_feedback_in_the_generation_of_emotion