The word Prana is a Sanskrit word relating to a light force or energy. In Hindu and yogic philosophy, the prana is present in both living/inanimate objects in the world both internally and externally. According to the Upanishads, It originates from Atman. ‘Pra’ meaning forth, and ‘an’ meaning to breath, ‘prana’ meaning ‘’breathing forth’’. Prana is believed to flow through the breath and practising Pranayama can enhance energy. Its the practice of breath allowing us to calm our mind and body, in turn improving our mood, focus and concentration. Let alone allowing us to look inside ourselves and connect to something bigger than us.
Below, i’ve explained my 3 favourite Prana exercises, there are so many, which can be incorporated in many different ways.
Ujjayi translates to ‘victorious’, and when practised, creates a pleasant soothing sound through constricting your throat slightly creating a noise when you breathe. To practice this technique, begin in an upright seated position, head faced forwards , Inhale through the nose and gently pulling the the breath in against the friction, this should create a gentle wave like sound, exhale through the mouth against the resistance to create the same noise. Breaths should be both dirga (long) and suksma (smooth), too much effort can cause the breath to become heavy and grainy, it’s important to remain relaxed and take your time… Once mastered, this can be used in many asanas to help deepen the breath and feelings within. For example in downward facing dog.
Also known as alternate nostril breathing – Amazing to reduce anxiety and stress, whilst aimed at clearing and purifying the subtle channels of the mind-body organism, creating balance within. Sit in a tall seated position, heart open. Place your left hand on your lap and start with your right thumb on your right nostril, inhale through your left, Hold the breath here whilst you switch to your ring finger, covering your left nostril, allowing you to exhale through your right. Continue this on alternative sides for 5-8 cycles. Consistency is key, aim to match the length of your inhales, pauses, and exhales. Maybe start with a count of 5, and with practice, slowly increase to 8 counts per inhalation, exhalation or pause.
Begin in any comfortable seated position or vajrasana (sitting on your heels with the top of the feet on the ground and the sit bones resting on the heels – if this inst comfortable, try using a pillow under your thighs). Place the palms facing down on the knees, inhale and lift your chest, up of the heels and straighten the arms. Bring your gaze to your third eye chakra (in between the eyes/forehead) and exhale, opening the mouth and sticking the tounge out. It may feel silly at first, but the benefits of dispelling negativity by helping you tap into your inner power and energy. And also, bringing a sense of fun to the flow, pleasing your inner child. Once achieved, is best practised in Simhasana pranayama ( lion pose), but can be Incorporated into any flow or during any asana.
“The breath not only protects the organs in the body, but also keeps them free from evil.” Brihadaranyaka Upanishad