When I teach a yoga class, I lead pranayama as part of the warm-up.
Pranayama, or breath control, is the fourth limb of the ashtanga eightfold path set forth in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. It’s the best tool I have in my bag to help ground students when they step onto their mats.
I can see the effects of pranayama wash over their faces—brows unfurl, eyes soften, jaws relax. With a few rounds of breath, a sense of peace and calm creep into the room and the energy shifts.
Technically, it’s not really yoga unless we’re mindfully breathing, right? It seems like a lot of folks think pranayama is a total waste of time.
But in our hectic, modern-day lives, a tiny slice of mindfulness might be the best thing we can do to cultivate some awareness.
As yogis, we practice self-discipline to gain mastery over our minds and bodies.
The connection between breath, mind and our emotions is a powerful one. Pranayama is an integral part of practicing asana, but I also encourage my students to try breath control out in the wild! It’s a simple action that can yield giant results. Give it a go in traffic, in line at the coffee shop or maybe even in the conference room. Try a little pranayama to diffuse the chaos. It has the power to ground you.
Focusing on one’s breath pulls the focus sharply onto the present moment—on and off the mat.
Top 10 reasons why you should be practicing pranayama in the wild:
10. Give your breath a voice.
9. Bring more oxygen to the brain.
8. Focus on the present moment.
7. Calm the mind.
6. Witness the energy of the universe.
5. Open a rich, internal landscape.
4. Sooth emotional stress.
3. Attain a higher state of consciousness.
2. Rejuvenate your body.
1. Extend your life force.
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Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock