This is an Esoteric introduction to Pranayama where you will learn some lesser known facts on yogic breathing techniques.
The most down-to-earth method of getting started with the Pranayama.
An Introduction To Pranayama
Yoga, in general, is so popular nowadays worldwide, that many folks know most forms of practice are based on body postures and breathing methods.
A small step further would be to say that the postures are ‘Asanas’ in Sanskrit and the breathwork falls roughly under ‘Pranayam’.
Prana again roughly, translates as ‘energy’ and so,
Pranayam is really, ‘energy techniques’.
These, as you can imagine, are practices aimed to enhance our intrinsic energy, develop some control of our energy, regulate our mind and intentions,
… And by so doing, improve our basic health and stability of body and mind.
In Yoga, which is a deep, ancient, and extremely powerful spiritual tradition and system, the real purpose of all the methods is the development and unification of body, mind, and soul.
This does not even stop there but goes on to ultimate liberation through genuine Self-Realisation.
But what does that really mean for most of us?
It sounds a bit strange and at first glance completely unrelated, but the practice of body and breathwork, done with the right mindset and intention, although just a beginning, can place us firmly on the path of eventual knowledge of,
- who we are
- where we came from
- what this crazy world we all live in is really all about,
The right we each have to choose and where it can all ultimately go – Namely,
Liberation via Self Knowledge.
Benefits Of Pranayama
Okay so back to Pranayam. On a simple level, regular Pranayam practice can,
- strengthen our lung function,
- improve oxygenation in our blood system,
- increase immunity,
- raise overall levels of health and vitality
- greatly assist us to relax properly, even really further our meditation if we are doing this and all this before even considering anything spiritual.
Perhaps it’s a good idea to not think of ‘spiritual’ as something strange, a vague concept somewhere ‘out there’ that I have to really search for, and so on…
Just more natural, normal and readily available to anyone given the right information, tools, and guidance.
If we just stop a moment and think, our breath along with our heartbeat, are with us just about from day one of our lives all the way along the journey until our very last day.
Both the heartbeat and the breath are dual in nature-
just like day and night, up and down, right and wrong, and endless more examples.
Pranayama – The Anatomy
We breathe in and out. Our lungs expand and contract as a whole ripple effect is activated in our bodies.
Our heart expands to draw in blood and then contracts strongly to pump that blood out the other side.
Again a multitude of functions occurs, from toxin removal, metabolism, and digestion, to energy modulation and distribution.
Can we intervene just a little with those automatic processes and take just some charge of our general condition?
Provided that we do so gently, harmoniously, and with the intention to find greater health, balance, joy, and spiritual knowledge.
We will experience fulfillment.
A possibly profound benefit and example of what this is all about can be experienced and felt via a very easy exercise.
After Introduction To Pranayama, Let’s Do It
- Simply find a quiet place for 20 minutes or so.
- Make yourself comfortable in a semi-reclining position – say on a bed.
- Lying back on some cushions to ensure the chest is more open than usual, head comfortable, and so on…
- This will make it easier to relax and breathe.
- Now simply relax and observe your breath.
- As you rest and watch, you will see that your breath pattern naturally evens out and reflects your sense of greater ease.
You can enjoy that for a few moments, especially since our busy mind has now a focus to watch –
the breath-in and out.
So our whole emotional and physical systems will calm down a bit.
Now it’s an easy step to just guide gently a slight increase in volume, making sure that you do not force.
We aim to breathe in smoothly and gently and then match the pace and rhythm as we breathe out gently.
Keep this up for a few minutes and notice how the effects that you initially felt increase.
By regulating our breath, mind, and body into this smooth, even rhythmic pattern, we automatically regulate so many systems of the physical body as well as the mental and emotional levels too.
Why Does Pranayam Matter
So there you have for yourself the embryo of a Yoga Pranayam practice.
If you do this daily for 15 – 20 minutes, perhaps including a 5 – 10 minute ‘resting’ relaxation in that time, you will soon feel a very real benefit and change in yourself.
The greater purpose of all Yoga techniques is ironically, to connect with ourselves on a deeper level.
That sounds weird, I mean, after all, I am who am, isn’t it?
Yes sure, but unfortunately, in our crazy modern lives with so many things clamoring for our attention and energy, even important things like work, social and intimate ones, we have somehow lost knowledge of who we really are.
Many folks are kind of lost somehow in what we call ‘false identities’ –
we identify ourselves with our jobs, our status, achievements, and many more illusory identities.
In short, we have lost contact with our Hearts and Soul.
It doesn’t help any of us that the world is so mechanized now.
All the programs everywhere on our phones and devices all trying their best to tell us-
what to do, what to wear, where to go, what to buy, and so on.
While technology may make certain aspects of our lives easier and of course the internet has opened up possibilities that were never there before,
the still small voice of our Heart is mostly crowded out and very easily buried under all that noise.
Wrapping Up- Introduction To Pranayama
The broader field of Pranayam contains many more exercises, some easier than others and all with slightly different purposes and effects.
Regular practice of Yogic Pranayam can have far more than just physical, mental, and emotional benefits, although those are substantial.
Regular Pranayam done with the right intention, can take us deeply into the pathways of Self Discovery and the Unification and Actualisation of our fragmented aspects – namely,
True Mind, Heart, Spirit, and Body.
As a longtime Yoga person, it is my deep aim to bring the ancient and now desperately needed knowledge of authentic Yoga back into the common arena.
Many associate Yoga with extremely difficult postures that look very impressive.
All this really does make us believe that it would take years of very hard work to achieve that and that would be very unlikely for me.
This is quite sad really since genuine Yoga has nothing to with extreme and difficult postures and techniques.
Some Simple Lifestyle Suggestions
- a regular commitment to our own Heart,
- somebody and breath work and,
- an easy meditation time would go a very long way towards establishing an authentic Yoga path for ourselves.
- Peace and harmony between Heart, Mind, and Soul is the true aim.
Therefore, the practice of authentic Yoga and of course this is what will give real hope, meaning, and joy, and fulfillment to average folk in today’s mad world of extremes, fear, anxiety, and very real despair and hopelessness.
About The Author
Paul Carlos is the founder of Sacred Spiral Yoga School, an accredited Yoga Teachers Training provider with Yoga Alliance International. Paul has been involved with Yoga and other disciplines for the last 35 years and is further a musician focusing on sacred and classical music.