You're sitting in gridlocked traffic. Relaxation at the beach awaits, but the telltale signs of road rage are starting to get the best of you as you try to get to that sandy paradise. If you feel the tension creeping in, you can use pranayama breathing techniques to calm yourself and keep anger and frustration from ruining your day.
What Is Pranayama?
Pranayama comes from two words - prana and ayama - that mean "life force" and "control." In this way, pranayama is a method of controlled breathing used to energize your mind and vitalize your organs and bodily functions. It can be a way to calm yourself when you are stressed, prepare you for meditation or help you focus.
What Are the Benefits of Pranayama?
When we race through our daily routine or feel stressed and high-strung, we often forget to take deep healthy breaths. When you run around at a frantic pace, breathing is short and shallow, which means your body is unable to rid itself completely of toxins. Lack of pure oxygen coursing through your system can actually make your body feel run-down, which in turn can lead to health problems including heart diseases and sleep disorders. Pranayama is a way to get back to the proper way of breathing, making you feel healthier and calmer.
Through pranayama, you maximize the capacity of your lungs and allow a better flow of oxygen in your body. Full lungs mean a happier you, as they help concentration, create better self-control over anger and emotions and strengthen your control over your body and your ability to relax.
Over time, most people form the habit of breathing high in their ribcage or chest. If you're sitting in traffic, feeling frustrated and tempted to let out a curse, try to take a nice deep breath instead. Sit up straight and take a breath through your nose that fills your stomach. You should feel your abdomen expand first, followed shortly thereafter by your chest. When your shoulders and chest rise, you have reached maximum oxygen intake.
Hold this breath and feel oxygen fill you, then exhale through your mouth. Allow your shoulders to drop first, your chest to relax and your stomach to come in, in reverse order of your inhalation. Repeat these breaths for at least a minute. A strong flow of oxygen to your brain is going to clear your mind and bring about rational thoughts, rather than the emotional ones that appear in times of stress.
Next time you get a serious case of road rage and think about flipping off the driver next to you, remember that you are only a few deep cleansing breaths away from relaxation and calmness. If you try it out and you like how you feel, there are many other pranayama breathing techniques you can use. Among some of the more complex techniques available are Nadi Sodhana, or alternating nostril breathing; Sitkari, teeth hissing breathing; and Ujjayi, loud breathing - all help to vitalize the mind and body and restore inner peace.
Prana is the Life Force that is within us all. In Sanskrit the word Prana has two definitions, breath and life. Ayurveda teaches us that when we come into this world the first thing we do is take a breath in and when we leave this world the last thing we do is exhale.
Three-part yoga breathing is a pranayama technique that is valued for its many benefits. This method of breath control enhances your self-awareness of your body while increasing your sense of self control and calm.