Pranayama

Yoga and Pranayama for World Health Day

Yoga and Pranayama for World Health Day

Sunday, April 7th, is World Health Day. The goal of this annual global campaign is to promote access to good health and healthcare for all people, all over the world.

 

Part of the campaign is focused on helping individuals and health care providers understand more about protective factors for good health, including nutrition, exercise, lifestyle and stress reduction.

 

Sheetali and Seetkari Pranayama

Sheetali and Seetkari Pranayama

Delving into the wonders of pranayama is amazing, because you come to realise not only that your breath can change your physical, emotional and mental state — but also that different breathing techniques have completely different effects.

 

You can use pranayama to create heat, energy, calm — and even coolness.

Revitalise Yourself with the Rhythm of Kapalbhati Pranayama

Revitalise Yourself with the Rhythm of Kapalbhati Pranayama

Kapalbhati is a powerful pranayama practice which, traditionally, is used before meditation. It’s also one of the Shatkarmas — a series of traditional cleansing practices. This is because its forceful and cleansing effects allow any pent up emotion to be released, and clear the mind of repetitive thought patterns — leaving you feeling calm and ready to focus.

 

In Sanskrit, kapal refers to the cranium, and bhati means light, perception, or knowledge. Kapalbhati, then, is often translated as frontal cleansing breath. It awakens and moves energy through your brain, and both the subconscious and conscious mind. At the same time it revitalises the entire body by generating heat and building a rhythm from which momentum and motivation can grow.

 

When working with this technique, you put emphasis and force on the exhale, pushing the air actively out of the lungs; and allow the inhale to happen as a natural reaction to this forceful exhalation action. This is the opposite of our natural breathing process —

Bhastrika Pranayama: An Energy Boost With Bellows Breath

Bhastrika Pranayama: An Energy Boost With Bellows Breath

It’s that time of year when we could all do with an energetic pick-me-up. And your pranayama practice can do just that; filling your body and mind with vibrant energy and warmth.

 

According to Ayurvedic ( Yoga’s sister science), the mild months of spring time are heavily weighted towards the Kapha dosha — which means you are more likely to feel tired, lethargic, and might be prone to digestive issues.

 

This is especially so as the after-effects of winter are still present in us during spring time during the winter months we nourish ourselves with heavier foods and tend to do less exercise. So the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda teaches us to balance this heightened kapha energy by including pita foods and practices — like bhastrika pranayama — in our routine.

Change Your Flow with Viloma Pranayama

“The more we can begin to exert control over the finer details of the breathing process, the more possible it then becomes to control the finer details of the mental process” 
- Saraswati Niranjanananda 

 

Have you ever stepped into conscious, present moment awareness while performing an everyday task? And realised that your awareness allows you to develop skill and precision — which transforms that mundane task into something amazing?

 

Well; viloma pranayama is a little bit like that.

 

Viloma means to go against the natural flow. And in this pranayama technique, we interrupt the natural flow of our breath to cultivate skillful breath control and awareness.

Alleviate Anxiety with Humming Bee Breath

Alleviate Anxiety with Humming Bee Breath

Do you catch yourself humming absent-mindedly while you’re walking round a shop, or filling in paperwork? Studies show that the sounds in our environment have a direct impact on our stress levels — so it’s no surprise that lots of us make sounds to soothe our own stress, or aid our concentration.


Bhramari Pranayama is a breathing which does exactly that. It uses the creation of sound in the throat, combined with closing off the ears to external sounds, to calm the nervous system and settle the thoughts.


How Bhramari Could Help You

The steady, bee-like humming sound you create during bhramari pranayama has an instant soothing effect on the mind. It’s an ideal practice for you if you ever feel anxious or overwhelmed because its effects are so immediate.


You can use it to calm down at any time.


As well as this wonderful, speedy anxiety relief, the benefits of bhramari include:

Ayurveda for Winter

Ayurveda for Winter

Ayurveda is a close sister of yoga. It’s an ancient and holistic system of medicine, developed in India thousands of years ago. It’s grounded in the simple principle of balance — because with balance comes good health.

An extensive study by two health scientists in 2016 highlighted the potential of ayurvedic knowledge to influence contemporary healthcare. They defined health from an ayurvedic viewpoint as:

 

“a state of equilibrium with one’s self (svasthya) but which is inextricably linked to the environment.”

 

Balance means adapting to changes in your environment that affect your physical and emotional wellbeing. What works for you in the heat of summer will be different from what makes you feel healthy and nourished during the winter.

Nadi Shodhana: Breathing For Balance

Nadi Shodhana: Breathing For Balance

Nadi Shodana is a traditional pranayama practice — a breathing technique — which promotes free and flowing movement of energy throughout the physical and subtle bodies.

The nadis are the energy channels that carry prana (our incredible life-force-energy) through and around the body all the time. There are a lot of them: around 72,000! And Shodana means ‘to cleanse’ or ‘to purify’.

So Nadi Shodana does exactly that; cleanses the energy channels to ease out any blockages or imbalances so that we can benefit from all of the energy available to us. It’s particularly effective at balancing two of the main nadis (energy channels) in the body, called Ida and Pingala.

An Overview Of Pranayama Practices

An Overview Of Pranayama Practices

Recently, I shared a brief introduction to Pranayama to give you a sense of what Pranayama is and what it does.

 

Today, this introduction continues: in this blog post you’ll find an overview of the pranayama techniques you might learn during my classes, courses and retreats.

 

Over the next weeks and months this post will become an index of pranayama practices, with each technique listed below linking to another blog post that goes into close detail about that practice.

 

So bookmark this page, and keep checking back to learn more and more!

3 Ways To Stay Happy And Healthy When Life Gets Overwhelming

3 Ways To Stay Happy And Healthy When Life Gets Overwhelming

We live in a fast-paced world. Most of us are constantly on the go; running around doing one thing after another, and never feeling like we’ve completed everything on our to-do list. The result?

 

Feeling unable to just be.

 

Do you have a tendency to get yourself tangled up in the idea that you ‘must do this’ and ‘must finish that’? Do you magnify the important tasks and allow this imagined pressure to send you into a panic?

 

Living in a constant state of urgency might seem productive — but it can become destructive for your health and wellbeing.

 

You’re not alone, though. We live in a non-stop digital age and it takes conscious effort to step outside of the expectation to buy into a culture in which being busy is valued above being happy.