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Pranayama (a.k.a. Breathwork)

Pranayama is a tool used to help you focus on your breath. In Sanskrit, prana directly translates to “vital life force” and Yama translates to “gain control”. We all know that breathing is an essential part of living, but most of us are never mindful of how we breathe. Breathing is an involuntary function, meaning we do not have to think about it; we just naturally breathe. The act of breathing occurs on its own. When you focus your attention on your breath, you elevate your energy levels. Below are 3 benefits of pranayama and an example of one breathing technique you can try today!

  1. Lowers Anxiety and Stress

Practicing pranayama gives your body the opportunity to rebalance itself. As you manipulate your breathing patterns, you produce a positive impact on your cardiorespiratory system. Typically, when you do not take notice of your breath, you breathe at a faster pace, causing your heart rate to rise. This causes high levels of stress and a variety of physiological issues. Being in control of your breath, and slowing down the pace in which you inhale and exhale, can significantly reduce your heart rate and blood pressure. Having a slower heart rate and lower blood pressure are directly linked to decreased stress levels. With more oxygen being transferred to your brain, your neural communication also enhances which helps elevate mood, improve emotional self-regulation, and lower anxiety levels.

2. Supports a Healthy Immune System

As stated above, Pranayama is a great tool for reducing stress and anxiety. When your stress levels are high, your immune system is weak. Stressing out opens a gateway for bad bacteria and viruses to enter the body and attack your immune system. Controlling your breathing patterns calms your nervous system, increases oxygen levels in your blood, and lowers feelings of anxiety. As you reduce your stress levels through the practice of pranayama, your immune system will become stronger and much more resilient.

3. Improves Emotional and Spiritual Wellbeing

It is clear so far that pranayama has a number of physiological benefits on the human body. Between an increase of oxygen in the bloodstream, and a reduced heart rate, your brain and body will start working at its optimal functionality rate. These improvements will ultimately allow you to mentally and physically operate with more clarity. Pranayama has the ability to help you find peace and calmness, strengthen your coping mechanisms, heighten your intuition, and balance out your energy systems.

Long Exhalations Breathing Technique:

Sit in a comfortable seated position with a nice straight spine in an upright posture. You can also practice this technique laying on your back. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart. Gently seal your lips and breathe in through your nose. First, fill your diaphragm up with breath, then your chest. Perch your lips, like you’re blowing out a candle, and exhale for longer than you inhaled. Do not force the exhale. If you experience strain on your exhale, simply breathe in and out for an equal length of time. When the breath feels smooth and relaxed, then you can start to increase the lengths of your exhale.

-Danielle Lasky Zero Doubt Club

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