By Faye Martins
Yoga breathing (pranayama) is a valuable part of a meditation practice. The yogic methodology is the union of asanas, pranayama, and meditation. Each piece is present in every style of yoga a practitioner chooses to follow, and the parts work together to provide the practitioner with the optimum benefits of a yoga training session.
Purpose of Breathing For Meditation
Pranayama techniques are breathing exercises designed to help the practitioner open up his body and mind to good physical and mental health and prepare for meditation. Many yoga breathing techniques are part of pranayama, each serving a different purpose in the overall yoga practice.
While all breathing helps bring in clean oxygen, expand the lungs, and eliminate the toxins in the body as it expels carbon dioxide, pranayama is designed to balance the two. Most beginners do not know how to breathe properly because most people are used to breathing shallowly due to their hectic lives.
Part of learning about yoga practice is learning about correct breathing. In particular, breathing is central to achieving meditation’s peaceful, in-the-moment state.
Understanding Long Deep Breathing
Long, deep breathing is the best technique for meditation. This technique encourages deep relaxation as the flow of oxygen in the body increases and the capacity of the lungs is used to the full extent. The ability to focus and concentrate also increases during long, deep breathing.
An additional benefit of long, deep yoga breathing that makes it ideal for meditation is that it allows the practitioner to gain control over emotions of fear, insecurity, and dependability, freeing and opening the mind for the positive affirmations accompanying meditation.
The Procedure of Breathing During Meditation
Long deep yoga breathing can be done in the seated positions preferred for meditation, and as the oxygen flows into the lungs and energizes the body, the body moves into deep relaxation, and the mind opens up and expands, allowing the practitioner to be fully in the moment. The meditation mantras and affirmations work with long, deep breathing, timing the words with each inhalation and exhalation.
Firstly, long, deep yoga breathing also helps the practitioner become aware of the energy flow within. Secondly, the lungs fill with fresh oxygen, causing pressure, which disperses energy to the whole body, including the nerve endings, and forces the chest and stomach to expand, pushing the shoulders back. Finally, once the practitioner exhales and releases the breath, tension is also expelled from the body, reaching a relaxed state for meditation.
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