Why Practice Pranayama Breathing?

"Prana" means that which is infinitely everywhere. "Yama" means to stretch or extend. "Pranayama" is the regulation of prana, the vital force of breath and life. Working with this life force affects mind and body. 

The breath is a barometer for our state of mind, and can be means to a clearer, calmer mind, to quiet thought flow so that we are able to experience the more subtle state of consciousness within. The breath should also be used to guides one through different postures of your yoga practice. 

Pranayama breathing has been shown to have numerous health benefits. Depending on the type of breathing you practice, it can cleanse the 72,00 nadis or channels in the body, enrich the blood with oxygen, heat or cool the body, reduce stress, reduces signs of oxidative stress in the body, lower blood pressure, and enhance one's perceptions of life.  Importantly, pranayama breathing can help to restore balance to the nervous system.

In our modern, busy lives, the sympathetic nervous system (the Yang aspect of the system, which is the active, fast response, fight or flight part of our system) often overrides the parasympathetic nervous system, or the Yin aspect of the system. Restoring balance so that the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated is important for digestion, nourishment, regeneration, sleep, rest, and connection with your internal world. 

Jen integrates pranayama breathing practices into her yoga classes and also offers clients longer sessions to understand what the breath can do for them. These breathing techniques are important to both the postures of yoga and to meditation. 

Here are a few of her favorite pranayama breathing practices:

- Full or Complete Yogic Breath (3-part breathing)  http://www.yogaindailylife.org/system/en/exercise-levels/the-full-yoga-breath

- Ujjayi Breath  http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/what-is-ujjayi

- Rechaka Pranayama  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9jYic5Fpj4

- Puraka Pranayama  https://www.yogapedia.com/definition/5334/puraka

- Nadi Sodhana (channel purification)  http://www.babymed.com/prenatal-yoga/breathing-practice-nadi-shodhana-channel-purifying-breath

- Candle Breath  http://www.calmclinic.com/breathing-with-anxiety-panic

- Sitali Breath  http://www.yogajournal.com/videos/sitali-breath-calm-anxiety-cool-body

- Robin's Breath  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VMLHbsUW8U

- Lion's Breath  http://yoganonymous.com/prana-power-simha-pranayama-lion-s-breath

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