What are Pranayama breathing techniques?
Pranayama breathing is a controlled breathing technique used in yoga; it focuses on correcting your breathing technique so oxygen is delivered to the blood and brain effectively.
The technique consists of a cycle that emphasises pauses in breathing without forgetting the importance of full exhalation. There are four stages in the cycle:
- Puraka (Inhalation) – Smooth and continuous process of drawing in air.
- Abhyantara Kumbhaka (Pause after inhaling) – Sometimes referred to as a full pause, this is the deliberate holding of air in the lungs following a full inhalation, without any movement of lungs, muscles or any part of the body.
- Rechaka (Exhalation) - smooth and continuous breathing out through relaxation of the tensed muscles. Such relaxation forces air from the lungs as they return to a relaxed state.
- Bahya Kumbhaka (Pause after Exhaling) Sometimes referred to as an empty pause, this is the deliberate holding of breath prior to taking the next breath in.
What are the benefits of Pranayama breathing techniques?
The Pranayama breathing technique teaches us to breathe properly, this means slowly and deeply. When carried out correctly, the technique has a number of benefits including:
- Increased lung volumes
- Improved lung function
Who would benefit from Pranayama breathing techniques?
Pranayama breathing technique is beneficial for any person with a respiratory condition that causes them to experience dyspnoea (shortness of breath). Respiratory conditions include:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Chronic bronchitis
- Hyperventilation syndrome