Pranayama: Breathing Life

Pranayama on the beach


Photo by processingly on Unsplash


Control your Life One Breath at a Time.


Ayurveda, the ancient healing system, has various sister disciplines that perfectly marry with its holistic approach and even compliment certain areas to create a beautiful wellness composition. One of these disciplines is Pranayama (Prana meaning life force and yama, control). It consists of breathing techniques and exercises meant to redirect the course of Prana to achieve better health.   


“But what is Prana? Those of us who faithfully follow the knowledge of Yoga could speak for hours about the subject. In a nutshell, Prana is what keeps us alive. Our overall health and the strength of our immune systems depends on the amount of Prana we keep inside of us. It goes up and down through our lives, depending on what we are doing (or not doing).” (Pilar, 2020)


Pranayama is often associated with Yoga, but it is a complete system on its own, lending a lot of its knowledge to other practices, such as Yoga and Ayurveda. The breathwork involved in many Ayurvedic practices is usually very specific to attaining a particular result. Sometimes, it can be a stress-releasing and anxiety-lowering exercise; others, it can be invigorating or even detoxifying. 


There are three main types of Pranayama: Cleansing (Prakshalan), calming (Prabodhan), and nostril alternating (Nadi Shodhana). But there are plenty of other variations, which can be more akin to you and your needs, complimentary to your activities. 


As Ayurveda is a genuinely holistic discipline, Pranayama is a tool that can help manage stress through the sensibilization of the autonomic nervous system. This system has two subsystems: parasympathetic and sympathetic. The former is in charge of actions that don’t require speedy responsiveness, like rest and digestion; the latter is in charge of activities that do require immediate responses, such as fight or flight. As you practice Pranayama, the autonomic nervous system will become more susceptible to change, and you will get better at connecting with this autonomous part of your body. 


Remember that Pranayama is a standalone practice; but, it´s a discipline that can be flawlessly joined with Ayurvedic teachings. Yoga is also one of the pieces that can cohesively be added to a larger picture of wellbeing habits. When transitioning to an Ayurvedic lifestyle, always remember to consult with your doctor and a trained Ayurvedic specialist, as some practices may not be recommended at certain life stages.


Whether you are new to Ayurveda or Pranayama, or a long time practitioner, keep in mind that mindfulness is one of the main factors to achieve well being and feel amazing in your own skin. 






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