This week, the fourth of Patanjali’s 8 limbs – Pranayama, breathing practice or techniques
Pranayama refers to controlling or directing the breath in an intentional way. When we breathe in our pranayama practice we direct our breath, our life force, known as prana, to support balancing our body; bringing it back to equilibrium.
Pranayama is a tool for calming the body and mind and also a form of self-discipline – staying with the breath, staying with the practice – training the mind to come back to the breath as it takes itself off on a wander. Pranayama also strengthens our respiratory system through facilitating more conscious and fuller breath and soothes the nervous system, easing our fight flight response and tendency to react. It also provides a stepping stone towards concentration (the 6th limb, dharana) and on to meditation (the 7th limb, dhyana).
Reflecting this week on your breathing and the effects on your body. Noticing how you feel when the body is breathing more deeply and at a reduced rate, more slowly…. compared to when the breath becomes shorter and shallower; utilising less of your lung capacity.
Resolving to take time this week to observe your breath at different times in the day and it’s effects on your body.