Pranayama – The Power and Practise of Intentional Breathwork to Heal and To Relax
Pranayama means “control of the breath”. We do this a lot in yoga, especially through Vinyasa flows and restorative treatments, but pranayama is also a practice in its own right. It’s simply breathing intentionally, breathing consciously, or breathing with a flow between your mind and your breath: as you focus on the inhales and exhales.
We often don’t think so much about breathing. After all, it’s something we have all done from Day 1 of living – it’s something we know how to do so instinctively it often comes without thought. And this makes complete sense: our breath is our life force, we need it, so of course, our body has designed a way to do so autonomously. However, your breath holds so much more power than just keeping you alive. Your breath can be a major control factor to how you feel internally – mentally, in your general wellbeing, in your energy levels, and further into your physical wellbeing too.
We live in a life that is rough. We face so many external stresses: things that challenge us, curveballs that are thrown at us, constant frustrations or fatigue levels that are inevitably going to internally drain us: time and time again. The point is: we all have the same holistic goal of living healthy and living happily. We all live in a world where there is much that is completely out of our control and always will be. However, we also live in a world where there ARE a number of little things that we can control. We have in-built mechanisms to help us cope, and these mechanisms are unconditional: you don’t need anything, anyone, or anywhere to make it happen. You just need you.
Breathwork is one of those fundamental mechanisms: when we start to breathe intentionally. Put simply, the benefits of breathing are focus, calm and non-reactiveness. These are things we can all use: from yogis to corporate CEO’s. Breathing calms the nervous system – takes us out of that “fight or flight” response and relaxes us into an energy system that is more relaxed, and connected.
Unlike meditation, pranayama or breathwork is very simple. It’s not about telling yourself to “stop stressing” or “stop thinking” – which can definitely be a pretty unrealistic ask for someone with a mind that loves to race. Instead, it’s distracting yourself with someone so simple and natural, and asking your body to tune into that flow.
On a physiological level, breathwork has a vast number of benefits – from hormone changes, to a better response system to stress, greater sleep quality, and increased connection and circuit of the nervous system, and a body that is more nourished, so it starts to feel more energetic. Simply sitting for 10 minutes a day and focusing on the way you breathe, and the conscious control of your breath, is an incredibly powerful practice.
But it also has some really powerful benefits when we connect breathing with movement. This is the foundation of both Vinyasa and EmPower class styles here at Elements Studio. Each yoga flow is created with a routine of movements: all of which are in rhythm with the breath. One breath: one movement. Within these classes, there’s this sweet spot moment that occurs when the teacher’s instruction fades away and you experience the union of your body, your breath, and your attention.
Whatever inspires you more: Pranayama breathwork practise at home alone in bliss simplicity, some more advanced breathing practises and methods of manipulating your breath work (think Lion’s Breath, Breath of Fire, Alternated Nostril Breathing), or the combination of breath work with movement: we ensure you that pranayama is a practise that is not only beneficial to your yoga practise: but to your wellness and ability to cope and control through life as well.
Interested in going a little deeper with your Pranayama practises? Here’s how to advance!
View one of our IGTV 5 Minute Tips & Tricks Relating to Breath Work:
Sign Up to Try One of Our Yoga Classes which Incorporates Pranayama:
Class Times: Monday 6am, Tuesday 12pm, Wednesday 4:30pm, Thursday 9:30am, Thursday 5:30pm, Friday 9:30am, Saturday 7am, Sunday 4pm
Class Times: Wednesday 9:30am, Thursday 12:00pm
Class Times: Wednesday 12:00pm, Wednesday 6:45am, Friday 5:30pm, Saturday 4:30pm