Prana is the vital energy in humans; it’s also known as the universal power of consciousness. Yama is the control and ayama is the lengthening of this universal force. So, if we look just at the word pranayama, we sense a deep and life-changing practice.
Practicing pranayama is known to have massive benefits. We reached out to Isabelle Karan, Healer, Yoga Trainer, Meditation and Pranayama Expert, to help us understand the effects of pranayama on our mind and body. Isabelle says,
We all are divine beings with a massive potential to do good in this world. Pranayama is the key to open the treasures within. In the eight-fold path of yoga, pranayama comes after the teaching of asanas, and marks the beginning of the subtle practices.
Read on to know how pranayama benefits us, as shared by Isabelle.
7 Benefits Of Practicing Pranayama
1. The breath is closely related to the autonomic nervous system. In fact, it translates our emotions and thoughts constantly into the physical, and therefore, the experiential realm.
2. Pranayama is commonly known in mindfulness-based practices, but it is also used in the Navy, Army and in psychotherapy to work with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Harnessing the power of the breath is life-changing, and increases mental strength and focus.
3. Let’s for a moment imagine our mind as a computer, with a massive storage of all we have ever experienced – good and bad equally. We access only a very small percentage of this massive storage, partly for our own protection, but partly out of habitual behavior. Just like a computer, if there is too much trash, open programs running in the background, cookies and what not, the computer slows down and the efficiency drops. It is the same with our mind and with our potential. The breath can access, release and cleanse this massive storage.
4. With the common kriyas which are cleansing practices, we cleanse our body. The body and mind are one, which means one is influencing the other and that is why you mentally feel calm after practicing kapalabhati. The mental overload gets discharged. The breath is closely connected to our autonomic nervous system, which regulates our ability to adopt fight or flight mode and basically get into action. It also helps us relax, rejuvenate and digest food. With the control of the breath, we can guide ourselves out of chronic stress into a state of being more relaxed. Our digestion can recover and work efficiently, which in return offers better nourishment to our body and has a rejuvenating effect. A healthy nervous system is a resilient nervous system and through pranayama we understand how to regulate our emotions, before the stress hormones become overpowering. Staying calm and focused in a stressful situation is a super power.
5. If we go deeper into the practice, we can access finer layers of ourselves. To get back to the example of the computer, we start to access the hard drive, clean up and reorganise forgotten files. This can lead to a release of old traumas, emotions and habits which may be unaware of. The gentle work of pranayama and the fact that control is in our hands, makes it a beautiful and safe practice.
6. The practice can teach you to tackle anxiety and even panic attacks. We access peace and also understand who we really are.
7. Pranayama is a very powerful practice, it is quiet and slow but you can feel its effects after the very first session. In a very beautiful and intelligent way, it helps us access our light. The breath is always with you, to learn its language is a gift you will cherish for life.