What is "pranayama"?

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Posted by Karen Bentley (KEJ Yoga) on 15 Sep 2015

Pranayama is a Sanskrit word meaning "extension of the breath" or "extension of the life force".

Why is it important?

Correct breathing is linked to many medical benefits such as improved sleep patterns, stress relief, lowering blood pressure and heart rate as well as our mental and emotional well-being, helping us to be healthy and focused.

But everybody can breathe though, right?!

Typically, individuals who have not practised pranayama before will display one of three breathing types:

• Clavicular breathing – shallow breathing in the throat, often a sign of stress and most people will be unaware of the condition
• Thoracic breathing – shallow breathing in the chest, this type of breathing is the most common, again most people will be unaware of the condition
• Abdominal breathing – using the diaphragm to naturally draw breath in. This is the desired level of relaxed breathing people should have.

Oh, so how do I do it correctly?

Breath is an essential part of Yoga practice and goes hand in hand with Asanas, Relaxation and Meditation. At KEJ Yoga, we guide students on how to get the correct breathing levels at the start of every class. Yoga teachers should also guide you when to inhale and when to exhale with the asanas (positions) you do in class. They may also ask you to focus on your breath during relaxation or meditation.

Yoga is in our opinion, the very best way to learn how to breathe correctly in this busy day and age, making sure you can benefit from all the wonderful things listed above!

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