Before you read any further, close your eyes and take three deep, slow breaths.
Do you feel what a difference the simple act of deep breathing makes? That’s the power of Pranayama, and the team at Symmetry Yoga Alameda is proud to offer all the guidance you need to make the most of your breath.
The word “Pranayama” is made up of two ancient Sanskrit words. “Prana” which means “life force” and “Yama” which means “control” or “extension”. Taken together, “Pranayama” means “controlling the flow of life force for maximum longevity”. Much like the yoga poses themselves, different styles of Pranayama can be used to support specific goals for the practice. This can be anything from bringing energy and focus to a specific area, energizing the system, heating or cooling the body, or helping us wind down and rest.
We covered the most popular style of Pranayama in another post, but Ujjayi Pranayam deserves a special shout out here too. Known as the “Victorious Breath”, this style of Pranayama is great for building heat, increasing balance during the asana practice, oxygenating cells, and grounding the Yogi in a meditative mindset. Check out our post on Ujjayi Pranayama for a breakdown of how to do it, then come to one of our classes for hands-on coaching!
Another highly effective and relaxing style of Pranayama is known as Sivananda Breath. This style is great for grounding at the beginning of practice, winding down at the end, and centering during restful moments in Child’s Pose. The slow, methodical pace of Sivananda Breath has been shown to lower the heart rate, activating the “rest and digest” circuits in the brain, and focusing the mind on the subtle sensations of the breath.
And last but not least there’s Kapalabhati Breath, also known as “Skull Shining Breath”. This style of Pranayama is energizing and enlivening, warming up the diaphragm at the beginning of practice to clear the way for deep Ujjayi breaths through practice. This style is generally always performed as a lead-in to the Asana practice, as it gets the heart rate up and can leave the body feeling a healthy buzz.
Want to learn more about Pranayama, and how it can power up your yoga practice? Our teachers would love to help you find that extra boost you need.
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