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The Basics of Breath Control – Pranayam (Part 3)

Life can be a very busy situation.

How often do you stop for a moment to breath?

If you ever feel a need for a quick de-stress and the clarity to handle any situation, try the exercise listed in part 2. If you want to maintain a higher level of awareness, focus, and overall wellness while keeping your mind more and more clear of that classic, habitually induced “mental clutter”, let yourself practice this breathing throughout the day; in time you will notice that you have more energy, have an easier time focusing and being, and even need to eat less to be satisfied!

To build up this practice, it is key to give yourself time and time again to take a moment for yourself. This can be done through predetermined triggers of different sorts to remind you to bring your awareness back to your center and back to your main energy supplier. Here are some suggestions for when you can remind yourself to practice:

  • At stop signs/lights while driving
  • Biking down a long stretch of street
  • Walking across the street
  • While eating
  • During bathroom breaks
  • In the shower
  • In bed before sleep
  • When you notice your mind thinking thoughts that are not serving you
  • Waiting in line/waiting for anything
  • While reading
  • During a nice long hug

The possibilities are endless! When can you think of to practice? Feel free to comment below!

I encourage you, every time that you notice that you aren’t breathing deeply (or God forbid that you aren’t breathing at all), give it a go, and you’ll begin to notice more and more just how much or how little air you are treating yourself with on a regular basis. Taking tiny breaths is a subconscious habit that can be supplemented with conscious effort! You’ll find yourself more calm and stable, and your intuition will have more room to work it’s magic. You can also supplement this practice by visualizing the air as white light entering your body and directing it to any part of your body (and your chakras as well!) for increased stimulation of healing and the cleansing/detoxifying of your system (more on this is future posts).

I hope this guide has been helpful in showing you the basics of taking back control of your breath. Thank you for reading!

~Matthew ♥

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The Basics of Breath Control – Pranayam (Part 2)

We’ve covered the basic understanding of breath control and its benefits in part 1. Now, when it comes to the how, it’s simple!

You may practice in any bodily position at any point over the course of your day and night.

1. Straighten up your posture! A straight back and open chest allow for full oxygenation and overall energy circulation. It may be challenging to hold proper posture at first, but in due time your lower back will strengthen up and your posture will become something you hold with pride and power. If you don’t already know what constitutes good posture, check out what the Mayo Clinic has to say here.

2. Empty your lungs completely by pulling the diaphragm and belly button inward until there is no more air in your lungs. If you are in the right place (AKA not driving), you may find that closing your eyes during this process is helpful to remaining focused.

3. Starting at the point below your belly button, begin drawing air into your lungs. Keep it steady, continue inhaling by pushing out the diaphragm, and fill up the chest last. Note that by drawing the diaphragm back in slightly once it is full, you can allow the chest a more free range of expansion, allowing for maximum capacity of oxygen intake. Feel it out, it’ll make more sense when you try it!

Proper breathing is done with the belly and chest, while the neck remains loose. If you feel any tightness around the neck area during this process, simply relax the tightness consciously and continue to focus on using the correct muscles to breath with. In due time the neck will remain relaxed by itself during the breathing process. If you feel soreness in your diaphragm at first, that is a good sign. You are exercising the muscles for breathing that haven’t quite been used to their fullest extent very much before; in due time you will strengthen these muscles and be breathing much more easily and powerfully than before.

4. Take a moment at the arc of the breath to allow the full effect of oxygen to enter your blood stream. If you are in a relaxed position, with practice you will find it easy to hold the breath here for longer periods of time, allowing deeper levels of conscious stillness and energy absorption. When you are ready, release with a slow and steady exhale. Remember, the exhale is where the release is, so it is important that the exhale is longer and more calm than the inhale, whereas the inhale may be quicker and filled with invigoration, yet still smooth and steady.

5. At the bottom of the exhale (get it all out by contracting the belly button and diaphragm into the spine!) take another moment’s pause, and then repeat steps 1-4  to your heart’s content.

And there you have it for the how! Feel free to mess around with this - find what feels the best, and keep doing it. If you don't feel quite able to breathe all the way out or in, work with what you can, that is okay. There's no pressure! It is your breath, your progress, your life. Through practice you will reward yourself with success, more and more energy to work with, and you'll find yourself equipped with a new clarity of mind and a connection to the body that you may not have experienced before. Next up we will take a look at some practical applications in every day life of which to apply this practice to.

Stay tuned!

~Matthew ♥

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The Basics of Breath Control – Pranayam (Part 1)

Pranayam (also called Pranayama) is a Sanskrit word describing an ancient practice from thousands of years past.

Prana = Life Force Energy

Yam = Control

2000px-Alchemy_air_symbol.svg_.png

The alchemical symbol for air

Pranayam is the practice of self-aware breathing with focus, purpose, and control, allowing the energy entering the lungs to provide FULL effect to one's entire being.

Air is the element that keeps us alive before all the other elements of warmth/shelter, water, and food. It is a life force that refreshes and revitalizes our system, second by second. Pranayama is the practice that takes this element and owns it for all that it is worth. There are an ABSURD amount of benefits to gain simply from breathing correctly - here are just a few:

Increased levels of blood flow to the brain and the body - this in itself is a major key to allow our energy to flow more freely. When the brain gets more oxygen, we are able to slow down our thought processes and focus more easily. As such, this is a prevention method for various forms of headaches and the clutter of excessive thinking. When the brain and body are more highly oxygenated, their ability to heal themselves is supplemented and all of their other natural processes are heightened, such as decision making, intuitive thinking, informational absorption, muscle recovery, circulation, pain management, etc.

Decreased stress - When we take a deep breath down to the core below our belly button and fill our lungs completely, our system is flushed with ripe energy. When we exhale, the fresh energy shakes up the stagnant energy in our system and releases it, bit by bit. During this process, studies have shown that the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, allowing for a slower heart rate, smoother digestion, and muscular relaxation. From this activation in the nervous system it has been proven that cortisol (the stress hormone created in our body) decreases, which in turn allows us to relax and pretty much not freak out about life. And of course, holding a relaxed state of being allows for better grounds for learning, focusing, and creating.

Higher level of conscious awareness - That deep breath is a controlled movement. It draws the focus of our being inward to the process of continuous flow, charge, and release of energy that is in breathing. You will notice with practice that your mind switches from autopilot to Youpilot - your mind switches from a reactionary, habitual pattern to a calm, responsive state. The difference is that when one is reacting to their environment, they are simply channeling all of the energy that they are exposed to, heavy or light, and thus do not have much impact on their reality, but instead become a conduit to whatever it is they experience without much gain on a mental and emotional level. With this, it is easy to become bogged down by heavy energy and become lost. When one is in a responsive state, however, one is free to go through life picking and choosing what serves us and what we feel would be better left untouched - from thoughts, to food, to people... really any and all decisions that we are faced with from moment to moment.

Consciously breathing allows us to see the bigger picture of our reality, and step into the shoes that are the most comfortable to walk in along the journey of our life path. If, at the very least, you would like to take your mind and soothe it from a state of chaotic, habitual, and sporadic thinking to a calm, clear state of awareness and thought, check out part II tomorrow!

Please leave any comments, questions, or experiences about this practice below!

-Matthew ♥

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