An Introduction to Pranayama
Improved Energy, Health and Longevity
Welcome and thank you for your purchase of this course. In these videos I give you an introduction to ‘breath-control’, which in yoga is known asprânâyâma.
This is a very accessible set of practices that can be done by anyone and have very effective results for health, longevity and well-being.
The type of breathing exercise that I wish to share with you here is breathing for increasing energy. This type of breathing is designed to increase the amount of oxygen entering your cells giving you the energetic benefits of building up carbon dioxide.
Introductory Lecture (Start here)
Benefits of increased carbon dioxide
- More blood to your brain and heart (vasodilation)
- More oxygen can enter your body via your lungs (bronchodilation)
- Increased energy levels (up to 18 times as much) due to increased oxygen uptake into your cells
- Stress reduction due to the calming effect on your nervous system
- Increased digestion of food by stimulating hydrochloric acid levels
- Reduced appetite for heavy, processed and acidic foods that cause weight problems
Four types of breathing exercises
In the following four breathing exercises the trick is to breathe as little as you comfortably can in order to build up carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide has the important role in your body of being able to signal the red blood cells to give the oxygen they carry to your body cells.
If there is not enough carbon dioxide in your body then red blood cells tend to retain their oxygen and not release it into your cells. This is called the Bohr-effect. When you get oxygen into your cells you have the possibility of making 18 times as much energy for every glucose molecule of ‘fuel’ you ‘burn’.
The four simplest breathing exercises (apart from relaxed natural breathing) are as follows:
- Inhalation emphasis breathing: Make a really long slow inhale and then a short natural breath out.
- Inhalation retention emphasis breathing: Make a gentle full breath in, and then hold your breath in as long as you comfortably can, and then a short natural breath out.
- Exhalation emphasis breathing: Make a gentle full breath in, and then breathe out as slowly as possible for as long as it is comfortably possible.
- Exhalation retention emphasis breathing: Make a gentle full breath in over 3-5 seconds, then a short full breath out about the same length, and then hold your breath out as long as you comfortably can.
Some tips for during the exercises
- You should stay as relaxed as possible in all these exercises and never force them.
- Whenever you need to breathe, simply take a few natural relaxed breaths.
- In each of these four exercises your ideal goal is to try to make each breath you take last as long as possible.
Many people find they can do one breath for as long as 45 seconds. Some people will find that even one breath in 30 seconds is hard.
Once you can breathe one full breath (in any of the 4 exercises I have described) lasting from about 30 seconds to one minute in length while relaxed, then the energetic benefits of breathing will manifest.
You will then find an increase in body heat, internal energy, mental clarity, reduced hunger as well as a profound sense of inner peace and relaxation.
- If you are a smoker, then these exercises can help you to easily quit smoking as they have the same calming effect as cigarettes. So by doing these exercises you will not have the urge to smoke, yet you will feel calm, focused, warm and energised.
- It is great for your health if you can sit quietly from as little as 5 minutes to 30 minutes or more each day and do some simple breathing exercises.
- You can do all four of these exercises in one practice if you like, but for most people it is best to learn only one exercise at a time.
All four exercises can be very effective at giving you energy but some people will find they prefer doing only one or two. To get the best effects it is important to do at least 6 breaths in each practice and it is also important to breathe less air than you normally would.
If you start to get dizzy then it is a sign you may be breathing too much air too quickly. In this case simply go back to natural breathing.