Pranayama practice properly: 5 tips for your practice

According to Patanjali, the goal of yoga practice is to still the undulations of the mind. One of the most important tools on the way there is our breath . Because through it we can influence our mind and our nervous system. Calm, even, deep breathing leads us into relaxation and gradually into meditation , where we can experience deep peace and connection.

Unfortunately, we can also achieve negative effects with an unfavorable breathing practice. If we breathe frantically, irregularly, or get out of breath during our practice, it's counterproductive. We trigger a stress reaction in our body and bring unrest to our finely tuned system. So if you want to start with pranayama, then I recommend the following five points:

1. Make friends with your breath

In the ancient yoga scriptures, the first step of the practice is called Prakrt-Pranayama. The practitioner begins by simply letting his breath flow naturally and observing it carefully - as it is and without influencing it. Just let your attention rest on your breathing: how does the breath flow? How is the inhalation and exhalation? Which parts of the body do you feel? How do you perceive the end of the inhalation and exhalation? Do you feel comfortable with that? Or are you tense and the rhythm is disturbed?

Gradually make friends with your breath, listen to it, dance with it. As a result, his rhythm will naturally become calmer and more even. Only after you have practiced this for a while should you move on to the second step of pranayama practice and use various techniques such as ujjayi breathing , alternating breathing or brahmari, which will further slow your breath and bring you into stillness and meditation.

2. Stop trying to control your breath

One often hears or reads that pranayama means controlling the breath. This is probably due to the fact that the term is made up of the words “prana” (life energy) and “ayama” (to control, to expand). However, one should break away from this idea in practice. Because do you really want to control a good friend? That sounds to me like toughness, disciplining and fighting. You can also cause damage.

Instead, you should first try to become aware of your breath (see point 1). Then you can gently influence and align yourself towards a specific goal. But always be careful and kind. Try to practice pranayama effortlessly - without ambition, without perfectionism, without the need for control.

Proper practice of pranayama

3. Observe the effect of your practice

The Yoga Sutra says that through practice your breath should become dirgha - long - and sukshma - subtle, delicate, effortless. This way you can always easily determine whether you are on the right track. If you run out of air during practice, experience exertion or pressure, start breathing faster, or feel exhausted afterwards, then you are doing something wrong. Maybe you want to achieve too much too quickly? Maybe it works a little softer better? You may also want to stay a little longer observing your breath and let the breathing rhythm calm down even more.

4. Pranayama - Enjoy the ride

Take your time. When it comes to breathing, nothing can be forced and there is little to do. Your life force will automatically begin to flow more intensely again and your breathing will slowly open and expand like a flower. You can just watch and enjoy this process. There are a number of images that can help you with this. It is best to choose the one that triggers the most pleasant associations for you.

Proper practice of pranayama

Here some examples:

  • Waves: Inhalation and exhalation are often compared to ocean waves. They come and go, in a completely natural rhythm that has a calming effect on many. If you like the idea, then let this image arise in you while you practice. Holiday feeling included!
  • Tenderness: If you enter into a friendly, gentle connection with your breath, then you can imagine inhaling and exhaling as a tender inner caressing. Feel how the air flows gently and smoothly through your body and gives you a pleasant feeling. This may create a loving inner attitude full of self-compassion.
  • Full & Emptiness: If you don't force the inhalation, but simply let it happen passively, you may experience that every breath is a gift that you only need to receive. It nourishes you and fills you with fresh vitality. Over and over again. With the exhalation you can let go of everything that is not serving you. Become light, free and empty. And when all the air has gone out of you - in that brief moment of pause for breath - you may be able to perceive a delicious stillness. Then the cycle begins again.

5. Cultivate gratitude

Your breath is your most faithful companion: it has been with you since you were born and will remain until the end. In stressful, difficult, worrying moments, he is your reliable anchor. If you want, he will always shake hands with you and calm you down. Even if you don't pay attention to it, it tirelessly sticks to its rhythm, which ensures your survival and is fine-tuned to your current condition at every moment.
In addition, your breath is an expression of the life force that flows through you, making you a part of a universal whole. Maybe you can occasionally give him a little gratitude and respect for that.

I hope you enjoy dancing with your breath!

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