An Overview of Pranayama Yoga Breathing

MBV   January 6, 2016

Yoga Pranayama Breathing

The power of breath is what keeps us alive and connected to the environment on a cellular level. The breath is an essential component to life and something that we almost never use to it’s full potential.

You may not realize how beneficial proper breathing can be, but this natural function of your body holds the ability to enhance every aspect of how you experience life.

Your breath keeps you alive by giving the body what it needs. By strengthening this interaction you are nourishing your body with optimal nourishment and energy instead of merely surviving. Through enhanced breathing you are tapping into an abundance of superior life force.

We associate exercise with physical activity and strenuous movement, but breathing is something that also needs to be developed, trained, and optimized.

In yogic philisophy, Pranayama Yoga breathing is considered to be the science of breath  — a technique to help prepare the mind and body for meditation. Pranayama yoga breathing is a long known secret to unlocking the true potential of our relationship with the breath.

Yoga Pranayama Breathing

Etymologically, the word Pranayama consists of two words: Prana and Yama. 'Prana' can be translated to mean life force or universal life energy, while 'Yama' means control. The combination of the two words would be used to mean 'control of the life force'.

This aspect of practice has been associated with the art of spiritual yoga where. Here, the practitioner is tapping into the life force that is always present on a quantum level for the sole purpose of maintaining of our body and the organs.

In Yoga philosophy there are four stages of Pranayama:

  • Arambha – the commencement stage wherein the person's interest in Pranayama is awakened

  • Ghata – the stage where the three sariras merge to envelope the soul. The three sariras are gross, subtle, and causal.

  • Parichay– the stage where the yogi experiences the true knowledge and essence of Pranayama

  • Nispatti– the stage where the yogi goes beyond his physical body, and unites with the supreme

The simplicity of this technique makes it even more exciting. The mechanics involve understanding the breathing process. During inhalation, we take oxygen into the body which is then distributed to in the form of nourishing energy transforming and changing everything it comes in contact with.

Exhalation activates the disposal of carbon dioxide which contains toxic waste produced in our body. The purpose of pranayama yoga breathing is to balance the oxygen-carbon dioxide ratio. A perfect equilibrium is achieved by practicing this technique by learning how to control and optimize the breathing pattern.

Although seemingly simple, Pranayama Yoga breathing is a quite complex exercise when it comes to the cellular interaction between oxygen and the organism that is our body. When practicing intentional breathing, we are tapping into a perfectly natural process.

However, even though this is a an essential mechanism of the human body that keeps us alive and seems to always run smoothly without many problems, the pressures of life resulting from work, lifestyle and even family are so intense that we are more often than not neglecting our breathing.

Sometimes, we are barely breathing at all due to constricted anxiety. We end up taking fast and shallow breaths.This steals our vital energy and leaves the mind and body malnourished which may lead to the accumulation of toxins in the body causing disease and underlying illness.  

By engaging in pranayama, the individual is taking in slow and deep breaths. With consistent practice, Pranayama yoga breathing harmonizes the body with the vibrations of the mind and is used to encourage a perfectly balanced state for meditation.

We are not only improving our breathing but when practicing pranayama yoga breathing, we are actually reprogramming our breathing patterns in order to activate some seriously positive benefits.

Benefits of Pranayama Yoga Breathing

Pranayama teaches us the proper way to breathe. We became used to breathing from our chest, using only a fraction of the lungs capacity. We are unaware that this is unhealthy and a very unnatural way of inhaling – this may lead to several complications.

With yoga breathing, we increase the capacity of our lungs, bringing more oxygen supply to the overall function of the body. We learn how to breathe slowly and deeply with correct posture.

Proper breathing through Pranayama technique has also been recently linked to weight loss. By practicing this technique, we take up more oxygen which increases metabolism in the body, burning the excess fat. Through exhalation, toxic waste is filtered from our entire body system. In the long run, this process is responsible for shedding excess weight.

There are several other advantages of practicing pranayama yoga breathing. This includes;

  • Improved blood circulation
  • Removal of toxic waste from the body
  • Relaxed and sharp mind
  • Proper and efficient breathing
  • Enhanced meditation
  • Healthy balance between the mind and body
  • Extreme boost in energy levels
  • Increase in self-control through practice of intentional breathing
  • Higher tolerance to exercise

A Quick Guide to Practicing Pranayama Yoga Breathing


Before getting into this technique, get into a comfortable position with your back completely straight – either sitting or lying down.

  1. Observe your breath and allow it to flow naturally without judgment. Take a couple minutes here to allow the mind to calm.

  2. Bring your intentions towards lengthening the breath and slightly extending the pattern. This should only be a slight modification and can gradually grow into more deep breaths. Focus on bringing the breath all the way into the abdomen and try to keep your chest still.  

    Continue this rhythm of deep breathing for 20 breaths before allowing your breath to fall back into a natural pattern. Take a rest and follow your focus from the breath into the body.

  3. Now, focus your attention on the chest. You will notice the chest moving slightly up at inhalation and down with exhalation. Intentionally deepen your breaths and try to fill up your lungs as much as comfortably possible, without strain, before releasing slowly and steadily.

Focus only on the chest and try to keep the abdomen still. Continue for 20 breaths and take your time, enjoy the process and feel every cell of your body become nourished a livened.

  1. Now in this step it is time to combine the two breathing patterns and engage in full pranayama yoga breathing. First inhale by filling the abdomen and then continue inhaling as you expand and fill the chest. Then exhale first from the chest as it empties and falls and then continue exhaling from the abdomen as it draws inwards completely. This is one round of the full yogic breath. Repeat this for 20 repetition.

By practicing this technique you are programming an enhanced version of your breathing pattern into your natural rhythm.

By developing better breathing habits you will also begin to notice that you begin to gain some serious control and awareness of your breathing in everyday life – this can come in handy and become a secret weapon when experiencing lack of energy, anxiety or stress.

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