The Basics of Breathwork: Pranayama (Ayurvedic Breathing Meditation)
Breath is the absolute vital force of life. We cannot live if we cannot fill our lungs with nourishing air and feed our bodies essential oxygen. Ayurveda recognizes this importance and elevates it through Pranayama, the formal practice of controlled breathing, also referred to as breathwork. (The Prana represents life and consciousness.)
Several simple but vital breathwork practices can be done anytime and any place.
Ujjayi Pranayama (Victorious Breath)
A soothing, calming, audible breath that involves inhaling and exhaling through the nose, while keeping the lips closed. The technique involves constricting the back of the throat, as one would while whispering.
Bhastrika (Breath of Fire)
Generates heat and energy in the body. Inhaling normally, filling up the lungs, exhaling in short quick forceful bursts. This breath is great for balancing Kapha dosha.
A cooling breath that involves inhalation through the tongue curled and exhaling slowly through the nose. This breath is great for balancing Pitta dosha
Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
A subtle energy clearing breathing technique, this pranayama involves closing one of the nostrils (with your thumb or finger) and inhaling through the other, then releasing the closure and exhaling through the other nostril, repeating this practice for several minutes. This breath is great for balancing Vata dosha.