Based on the “Five Points of Yoga” as outlined by Swami Vishnu-Devananda-ji.
2. Proper Breathing (Pranayama)
Yoga teaches us how to use the lungs to their maximum capacity and how to control the breath. Proper breathing should be deep, slow and rhythmical. This increases vitality and mental clarity.
Breath is life. We can live for days without food or water, but deprive us of breath and we die in minutes. In view of this, it is astonishing how little attention we pay in normal life to the importance of breathing correctly. To a Yogi there are two main functions of proper breathing: to bring more oxygen to the blood and brain: and to control prana or vital energy, leading to control of the mind.
What is proper breathing?
Breathing correctly means breathing through the nose, keeping the mouth closed, and involves a full inhalation and exhalation which bring the whole of our lungs into play. There are three basic types of breathing: clavicular (shallow), intercostal (middle) and abdominal breathing (deep). A full yogic breath combines all three, beginning with a deep breath into the abdomen and continuing the inhalation through the intercostal and clavicular area. Without lifting the shoulders. The abdomen fills, the chest rises. When we inhale, the abdomen expands and the diaphragm moves down, massaging the abdominal organs. When we exhale, the abdomen contracts and the diaphragm moves up, massaging the heart. In the beginning it is very helpful to place one hand on the abdomen, and the other one on the chest.
Pranayama literally means control of life force or vital energy. Prana=vital energy, yama=control.
© Photography Maria Steiner