The word pranayama is composed of prana and yama (control) and is meant to be understood as “control of the breath”. “Control” is however a harsh word; we prefer to use “discipline.”
So the breath! We all know it exists because without it we wouldn’t be alive, but we’re never conscious of it and how it affects us. It removes impurities, relaxes the heart and thus relieves tension in the muscles and straightens the spine. Practise this simple and effective exercise every day:
1. EXHALE: push all the air out of your chest and tummy so that you create space in these cavities for the inflow of air upon inhaling.
2. INHALE: straighten your spine as you breathe in slowly so you fill your chest, expanding the rib cage as you do so. Attempt to count to 5 slowly while inhaling. Gradually build this up to 8 or 10 counts.
3. EXHALE: repeat step 1, attempting to count to 5 slowly while doing so. Again, like inhalation, gradually build this up to 8 or 10 counts.
So integrate conscious breathing into your daily routine. 10 minutes a day is a good place to start.